Concealed or Contained?

by H. Lee Harrell
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney
Wythe County, Virginia

          Section 18.2-308 deals with, among other things, concealed weapons.  Dealing with what is “concealed” in terms of a vehicle has been a VERY confusing issue for some time.  Things appear to be getting clearer (but maybe not better for law enforcement) now. 

          First and MUCH, MUCH needed, there is an overhaul of Section 18.2-308, which will become law as of July 1, 2013.  Nothing substantive is changing in the section.  Instead, this is a “clean-up.”  As it stands now, the section is a total mess based on years of tinkering.  This new revision simply re-organizes and clarifies things.  It is a blessing for everyone. 

          On February 5, the Court of Appeals handed down an opinion in Doulgerakis v. Commonwealth, Va. App. 0458-12-2 (2013).  The issue at hand was whether a firearm in a closed, latched but unlocked glove box is exempt from being a concealed weapon.  The answer was yes….defendant not guilty.

          In 2010, the legislature passed a law exempting handguns in vehicles from being concealed.  The original language was for handguns that were “locked in a container or compartment.”  The Governor suggested a change from “locked” to “secured.”  The General Assembly agreed and made that change.  See Section 18.2-308(B)(10).

          The Court of Appeals made the determination in this case that “secured” is quite different from  “locked.”  They decided that a closed, latched unlocked glove box is “secured” and therefore Mr. Doulgerakis was not guilty of having a concealed weapon.

          This still leaves open the question of an unlocked console I suppose.  However, after reading this case, it seems that so long as the gun is in a closed, secured container of some sort, it will not be considered concealed.

Disclaimer:  The content of the Virginia Police Legal Bulletin does not constitute legal advice, nor does it reflect the opinions or views of the Virginia Police Legal Advisors Committee.