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What Weapons Can I Possess if I've Been Convicted of A Felony in Virginia?

March 27, 2017

It's illegal for someone who has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm in Virginia. Va. Code section 18.2-308.2 also makes it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to possess other kinds of weapons. The other weapons that you cannot possess are stun guns, ammunition, or any explosives. If you are convicted of possessing a firearm or one of the other prohibited weapons, it is a class 6 felony, which means that you could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

What Is the Definition of A Firearm?

The definition of firearm is broader than you might think. A firearm is any instrument designed to expel a projectile by means of an explosion. It doesn't matter whether the firearm actually works. It also doesn't matter whether you intended to shoot the firearm. The prosecutor only has to prove that you knew that you were in possession of an instrument that was designed to expel a projectile by means of an explosion. The Virginia Court of Appeals has held that a flare gun is a firearm. The Court of Appeals has also held that a gas gun is not a firearm.

Can I Possess a Cross Bow?

As of today's date it does not appear that the definition of firearm includes a cross bow. In other words, you can possess a cross bow under Virginia state law if you've been convicted of a felony. Virginia law changes all the time, though. So you should be careful to keep yourself updated and aware of the many changes in Virginia law. For now, as long as the cross bow doesn't use some kind of an explosion to shoot arrows, it will not be considered a firearm in Virginia.

What Is a Stun Gun?

The definition of stun gun is found in Virginia Code section 18.2-308.1:

"Stun gun" means any device that emits a momentary or pulsed output, which is electrical, audible, optical or electromagnetic in nature and which is designed to temporarily incapacitate a person.

There is an exception to the law relating to stun guns. You can possess a stun gun, even if you've been convicted of a felony, in your own home or in the curtilage of your home. The curtilage of your home is the area immediately surrounding your home.

What Are Explosives?

Explosives are also defined in Virginia Code section 18.2-308.2. The definition if technical and includes black powder, dynamite, pellet powder, smokeless gun powder, detonators, and blasting caps. The definition does not include fireworks. So you can still possess fireworks if you've been convicted of a felony under Virginia law.

What Other Exceptions Are There to The Law?

If you're a law enforcement officer or in the military, you can possess of firearm even though you've been convicted of a felony. However, you can only possess the firearm in the course of your employment. You can also possess a firearm in you've been pardoned or if the governor has restored your civil rights.