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Prince William County Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Charges

State law has multiple statutes covering the unlawful discharge of a firearm. These laws prohibit someone from discharging a firearm at an occupied building, hunting with a shotgun while intoxicated or after license revocation. Gun owners may not discharge a firearm in a public place while walking along the street or from a motor vehicle. State law also strictly prohibits shooting a gun within or near a school zone.

These laws are meant to keep everyone safe. Therefore, when law enforcement believes that someone violated these regulations, they take these situations seriously. A local attorney could help you fight Prince William County unlawful discharge of a firearm charges if law enforcement believes you illegally shot a weapon.

Penalties of Unlawfully Discharging a Weapon

The penalties for illegally shooting a firearm in Prince William County can be severe. For instance, discharging a firearm at an occupied building without malicious intent is a Class 6 felony punishable by non-mandatory one to five years imprisonment with up to a $2,500 fine. However, shooting a weapon at an occupied building with malicious intent is a Class 4 felony punishable by non-mandatory imprisonment of two to ten years with up to a $100,000 fine.

Using a firearm to hunt while intoxicated is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine. Hunting with a firearm after one’s license has been revoked carries the same classification and punishment.

Firing a gun in a public place is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and a $2,500 fine if there is no resulting injury. If there someone does sustain an injury, the court may punish this person with a Class 6 felony, which involves non-mandatory imprisonment of one to five years and a $2,500 fine.

Shooting a firearm along a roadway is a Class 4 misdemeanor, which is a non-jailable offense, but it does carry up to a $250 fine. Discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle in a way that creates a risk of injury or death to another person is a Class 5 felony punishable by non-mandatory imprisonment of one to ten years with up to a $2,500 fine.

Shooting into a motor vehicle without malicious intent is a Class 6 felony punished by non-mandatory imprisonment of one to five years and up to a $2,500 fine. Doing so with malice increases the punishment to a Class 4 felony with non-mandatory two to ten years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Shooting into a police or emergency motor vehicle without malice is also a Class 6 felony, but the punishment includes a mandatory one year of imprisonment. Similarly, discharging a weapon into a law enforcement or emergency vehicle with malice is a Class 4 felony with the same mandatory minimum year of jail time.

Discharging a firearm on public property within 1000 feet of a school, as well as shooting a gun within or upon an educational building, is a Class 4 felony punishable by non-mandatory two to ten years of imprisonment with up to a $100,000 fine.  However, if the discharge is intentional within a school building, it is punished as a Class 6 felony with a mandatory term of five years in prison.

Potential Defenses

Common defenses to unlawful discharge of a firearm include disputing that the discharge was intentional or that the shot actually injured or reasonably could have injured another person. A skilled attorney also may try to argue that the discharge did not occur near or within a certain kind of property, roadway, or motor vehicle. Discharging a weapon out of necessity or in self-defense is another common defense strategy that a Prince William County lawyer may use in an unlawful discharge of a firearm case.

Contact a Prince William County Unlawful Discharge of a Weapon Attorney

Illegally firing a weapon can have serious consequences that could follow you around for years after an arrest. Therefore, if you are facing allegations of illegally shooting a gun, you should contact an attorney. To start fighting your Prince William County unlawful discharge of a firearm charges, call today.

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