In the state of Florida, there are many ways to be charged for the possession, purchase, or use of a weapon or firearm. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help to to understand everything you need to know. Here are a few of the most common weapons crimes:
Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Florida
If you are knowingly carrying a firearm on or about your person and the firearm was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person, you can be charged with Carrying a Concealed Firearm. This is a third degree felony and is considered a Level 5 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. If convicted, you can face up to 5 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
You can fight the charge in many ways. First, you can show that you have a Concealed Weapons Permit issued by the State of Florida. Also, if you are an out-of-state visitor with a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm in your home state, then you may also be okay, provided that your home state offers concealed carry reciprocity. Additionally, there are a few statutory excepted activities in which you can lawfully carry a concealed firearm. For example, law enforcement and security officers can carry concealed weapons legally, but you can also carry concealed weapons if you are traveling to or from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting event; transporting a firearm within a private residence; and traveling to or from a gun show or firearms club.
Also, if the firearm is not on your person but instead is kept in the interior of a prison vehicle, this is legal as long as the firearm is “securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.”
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
This is similar to a “Carrying a Concealed Firearm” charge. The difference is instead of a firearm, the defendant is accused of concealing a different type of weapon, such as any dirk, metallic knuckles, sling-shot, billie club, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon. This is a first-degree misdemeanor and can result in up to one year in county jail, one year of probation, and up to $1,000 in fines.
If you have a concealed weapons permit in Florida or in a state that offers concealed carry reciprocity, then you can lawfully carry a concealed weapon. Additionally, self-defense products, such as pepper spray and non-lethal stun guns, are an exception. You can carry them legally without an issue. Also, pocket-knives, plastic knives, or table knives with a blunt blade are not considered concealed weapons.
Improper Exhibition of a Weapon
The crime of Improper Exhibition of a Weapon occurs when the defendant carried a dangerous weapon or firearm, exhibited it in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, and did so in the presence of at least one person. This is a first-degree misdemeanor, and if convicted, you can face up to one year in jail, up to one year of probation, and up to $1,000 in fines. One type of defense for this crime is self-defense.
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
If you are a convicted felon, whether in Florida or elsewhere, it is illegal to knowingly own, care for, possess, or control a firearm. If convicted, you can face up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines.
Florida Weapons Enhancements
Additionally, if you are convicted of a crime such as aggravated assault, aggravated battery, or robbery, you can receive an “enhancement” if you used a weapon in the commission of the crimes. An enhancement means that there will be an increase in the penalties. Weapons charges have the potential of adding a significant amount of time to your prison sentence if you are convicted.
One weapons enhancement you may have heard of is 10-20-Life which applies to certain violent crimes. If a firearm is carried, there is a 10 year minimum prison sentence. If the firearm is discharged, there is a 20 year minimum prison sentence. And if someone is shot or killed with a firearm, then there is a 25 year minimum prison sentence with the possibility of up to life in prison.
A weapons charge is a serious accusation and requires an experienced, skilled Orlando criminal defense lawyer.