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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Legal Consequences for Leaving Children Unattended with Firearms

Many Virginians keep firearms in their homes for purposes of self-defense, hunting, and sport, and while most do it in a safe manner, the law nonetheless prescribes punishment for those who put the safety of children and others at risk by allowing minors access to handguns. Violators of the law could be subject to more than just jail time, as a conviction could incur an investigation from child protective services as well.

Section § 18.2-56.2 of the Virginia Code makes it illegal for any adult to:

  1. “Recklessly leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any child under the age of fourteen”
  2. “Knowingly to authorize a child under the age of twelve to use a firearm except when the child is under the supervision of an adult”

A violation of Subsection A is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500. A conviction of Subsection B is a Class 1 misdemeanor and can carry a one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. Either of these firearms-related crimes could be interpreted by Child Protective Services (CPS) as a form of abuse or neglect and jeopardize the parent’s custody of his or her child.

Firearms Crimes Can Have More Than Legal Consequences

Leaving a loaded firearm where a child can access it may have more than just legal consequences, such as fines, jail time, a criminal record, and a CPS investigation. A recent tragedy in Roanoke highlighted just how catastrophic these consequences can be after an 11-year-old boy was shot and killed by a friend in his home while the two played with a loaded handgun they found inside.

The young victim, described as a lover of art and music, had graduated from his elementary school just a few days before the accident. Authorities investigating the accident are said to be consulting with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office on whether to charge the boy’s mother for leaving the loaded gun where the boys could find it.

While it is unclear if the mother of the shooter has any other children, the overlap of criminal and child neglect charges make these types of situations especially difficult to navigate. Defendants in these situations may need to fight battles with the legal system regarding whether the gun was left recklessly unsecured, as well as convince CPS they are fit parents and the child is in a safe place at home.

Leesburg Child Abuse Attorneys

If you or a family member face charges related to child abuse or neglect, contact our office for a consultation about your case. Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC has years of experience helping families stay together in these types of situations and knows how to guide their clients during difficult legal times.

Our office is located in Leesburg and serves clients throughout Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Clarke County, and Fauquier County.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!