It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia. Virginia is an open carry state, which means people can generally carry a handgun in public if it is visible. However, carrying a concealed handgun in Virginia requires a permit. For more information on permits to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia, click here.
If a person carries a concealed handgun in Virginia without a permit, or has a concealed handgun permit but violates certain restrictions, he can be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-308. This statute also applies to carrying a number of other concealed weapons.
Carrying A Concealed Weapon in Virginia (Va. Code §18.2-308)
Carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia, Va. Code §18.2-308, is violated when an offender carries a weapon about his person and hidden from common observation.
Proof of Carrying A Concealed Weapon in Virginia
To convict an offender of carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia, the Commonwealth must prove that the offender carried one of the listed weapons about his person and hidden from common observation. The offender must be in possession of the weapon, but the possession can be actual or constructive.
About his person means “readily accessible for use or surprise.” Hidden from common observation means that the weapon is “observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon’s true nature” (Va. Code §18.2-308(A)).
The weapons covered by Va. Code §18.2-308 include:
- a pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material
- a dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, springstick, metal knucks, blackjack
- any flailing instrument consisting of 2 or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely (nun chucks)
- any disc of whatever configuration having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled (throwing star or oriental dart), or
- any weapon of like kind.
Penalties for Carrying A Concealed Weapon in Virginia
A first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punished with up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2500, or both. A second offense carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-308 is a Class 6 felony. It is punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2500. A third offense is a Class 5 felony. It is punished with up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $2500.
Exceptions to Prohibition Against Carrying A Concealed Weapon in Virginia
It is not a violation of Va. Code §18.2-308 to carry a concealed weapon if the person has a valid concealed carry permit. However, there are some restrictions. The person cannot carry a concealed weapon in public while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs (Va. Code §18.2-308.12(A)) nor can he carry a concealed weapon onto the premises of an establishment that serves alcohol and consume an alcoholic beverage (Va. Code §18.2-308.012(B)).
Additionally, the statute specifically notes that Va. Code §18.2-308 does not apply to carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia:
- in a person’s home or curtilage
- at his own place of business
- while hunting
- in his car if secured in a container within the vehicle
- if the person is a law-enforcement officer, retired law-enforcement officer, Commonwealth’s Attorney or Judge
- those traveling to or at a shooting range, place of purchase or repair, a firearms training course, or a weapon show
- postal carriers, state correctional institution officers or guards, conservators of the peace, or noncustodial employees of the Department of Corrections in the discharge of their duties (or while in transit to or from their official duties)
Other Charges Involving Carrying A Concealed Weapon in Virginia
Carrying A Concealed Handgun in Virginia While Under the Influence of Alcohol
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone with a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed weapon in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Va. Code §18.2-308.012(A) provides that this offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punished with up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2500. Additionally, the offender will not be able to apply for a concealed handgun permit for five years.
Carrying A Concealed Handgun in Virginia While Consuming Alcohol in Public
It is a Class 2 misdemeanor under Va. Code §18.2-308.012(B) for anyone with a concealed carry permit to consume any alcohol if he carries his handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club that serves alcohol.