Fighting a Charge of Brandishing a Firearm in Public

A firearm doesn't have to go off for it to be used improperly. In some cases, gun owners find themselves on the wrong side of the law if they are simply brandishing a firearm. Because this type of charge often depends on eyewitness testimony, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney because you may be able to cast doubt on the assertion that you were brandishing a firearm.

1. Understand What Brandishing Means

If you live in a state where it is legal to carry a concealed firearm, the gun must remain in your holster until you believe that there is a threat to your life. Only then can you draw your weapon and use it in self-defense. 

Revealing that you have a firearm is constituted as a threat and you may face civil and criminal charges. There are many ways you can use your weapon as a threat including:

  • Placing your hand on the holster
  • Lifting your shirt to show that the firearm is present
  • Drawing the weapon
  • Failing to exhaust all possible options to deescalate

In many states, the act of brandishing the weapon must be careless, angry, rude, or otherwise threatening. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help you explain your motives to show good faith and responsibility.

2. Create Defenses Against a Charge of Brandishing a Weapon

Because the situation's context matters when determining whether you will be found guilty, you may clarify the context in which you were "brandishing" your firearm. For example, you may have simply been adjusting your firearm in its holster and didn't intend it to be perceived as a threat. You may argue that a reasonable person would not have found your conduct threatening.

You will usually need to have brandished your firearm in a public place. If the area where you brandished the weapon was private property, you may have your charges dropped or reduced. You may also argue that you had a reason to believe that your life was in danger and that you were withdrawing your weapon to use it in self-defense.

3. Handle Your Case Differently if You Discharged Your Firearm

You'll have a harder time defending yourself if you discharged your firearm. For example, if you withdrew a pistol and fired it at the ground, you will need help from a very competent criminal defense attorney to argue that the discharging of your weapon was justified.