Virginia laws regarding Taser use are more significant because of what they omit. They are almost ambivalent about Tasers once the weapons are out of the reach of schoolchildren and convicted felons. In fact, online retailers offer to ship the weapon straight to a Virginia resident's door.
Legal Definition of a Taser in Virginia
The Virginia Code defines a Taser as any device that emits an "electronic, magnetic, or other type of charge or shock" through the use of a tethered projectile. It also must be meant to temporarily incapacitate someone. As such, electric shock weapons used by animal trainers do not pass this definition.
Convicted felons and adjudicated delinquents may not possess or transport Tasers within Virginia. Former felons must petition a judge for a possession permit for such weapons. Those former felons found guilty of possessing or transporting a Taser could face up to five years in prison if they were convicted of a violent felony. Nonviolent felons can face up to two years in prison. Tasers are also not permitted on school grounds, at school-sanctioned events or on school buses. Using or displaying a Taser on school property commands a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years.
Tasers are legal for purchase by consumers Virginia. You don't even need to attend training or apply for a special license. They are meant for self-defense only.
Although Virginia common law provides shades of legal protection for those who physically harm others while acting in self-defense, there are no "catch-all" defenses. Anyone wishing to more about the status of self-defense in the eyes of Virginia common law should read Shlomit Wallerstein's paper on self-defense law in Virginia. It breaks down how state courts qualify people as aggressors and what qualifies as a justification for acting in self-defense. (See Resources.)
Christopher Herhalt has been writing for print and web since 2008. He has been published in "The Charlatan" newspaper of Ottawa and "The Tehran Times" of Tehran, Iran. Herhalt received the Carleton University School of Journalism's K. Phyllis Wilson Award for excellence after his first year of study. He is enrolled in the Honors Bachelor of Journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.