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Reckless Handling of a Firearm

Reckless Handling of a Firearm

You can be convicted of Reckless handling of a firearm if you recklessly handle a firearm so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.

The word "reckless" as it appears in reckless handling of a firearm hasn't been defined by the legislature or courts in Virginia. That means a judge must make the decision based on what the judge's definition of reckless is. A good attorney can argue to the judge the one definition of reckless should be accepted over another, but as an initial matter, here are several things that we know from the statute:

What's the punishment for reckless handling of a firearm?

Reckless handling of a firearm is punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor means you could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you're charged with showing a wanton disregard for human life and you injure another person, then you can be convicted of a class 6 felony. 

Does the gun have to fire to be considered reckless handling?

The statute does not require that the firearm fire a bullet or projectile before you can be convicted of reckless handling of a firearm. That means, even if the gun does not fire, you could be convicted of reckless handling of a firearm.

Does someone have to be injured to be considered reckless handling?

The statute does not require that someone be injured. Even if no one is hurt, you can still be convicted of reckless handling of a firearm. To be honest, if someone was injured you will be charged with something much more serious than reckless handling of a firearm, which is only a class 1 misdemeanor.

Can I be charged with reckless handling of a firearm if I only endanger property?

The statute does require that you endanger a person or a person's property. Endangering the life of an animal does not count as reckless handling of a firearm. However, just endangering the property of a person is enough. That is probably the broadest provision of the statute. As you can imagine, endangering the property of another person could be almost anything. In fact, if you endanger an animal that is owned by someone, that could qualify as reckless handling of a firearm because it would count as property of a person. 

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