The Second Amendment states that we have the right to bear arms, but is that true under state law? Different states have different policies regarding where you can carry a weapon, what kind of weapons are allowed, and the consequences for carrying a weapon illegally.
The best way to avoid or fight a weapons charge is to know both your federal and state rights. To that end, today we’re going to look at Florida’s laws regarding weapons and weapon charges.
What Is Considered a Concealed Weapon, and Where Can I Carry It?
Legislation about concealed weapons in Florida apply to the following items:
- Electronic weapons/devices
- Tear gas
If you are in your home, personal place of business, or your car, you may carry a firearm. You can also bring a firearm fishing, camping, or hunting, and transporting a weapon to and from these activities is also legal.
To elaborate on carrying a gun in your car – there are restrictions to this rule, and the law is often confusing to gun owners and even law enforcement. Here are the most important things to know when carrying a gun in your car:
- Florida law allows you to carry a firearm in your car if you are 18 years old or over, even though you have to be 21 to apply for a handgun license.
- Handguns must be held in a secure case and not be accessible for immediate use. Keeping your gun locked in your glove box or in a proper gun case are both legal.
- Long guns can be carried anywhere in your private vehicle.
Employers cannot discriminate against employees for possessing a handgun license or legally keeping a handgun in their motor vehicles. Employers are also not legally obligated to ask employees about the presence of handguns in the employee’s private vehicle.
Concealed Carry Restrictions
Even though it is possible to obtain or carry a gun in private without a license, you cannot carry a handgun in public spaces without a valid license. You can apply for a concealed weapons license if:
- You are over 21 years of age
- You do not have prior felony convictions
- You do not have a record of drug or alcohol abuse
- You prove you have the physical ability to handle a handgun safely
- You haven’t been convicted of a misdemeanor or violence charges in the past 3 years
- You don’t have two or more DUI convictions in the past 3 years
Open and concealed weapons cannot be carried under any circumstance in the following places:
- Polling places
- Detention facilities, prisons, jails, courthouses, and courtrooms
- School, college, and professional athletic events
- School facilities or administration buildings
- College and university facilities
- Any place of nuisance (places where gambling or lewd activity is taking place)
- Hospitals that treat mental illness
Minors cannot possess a weapon unless they are under direct adult supervision or have parental consent. If you are in possession of a weapon that a minor could have access to, be sure to keep it close to your person or in a locked box. Failing to keep a firearm from a minor who uses it unlawfully is a second degree misdemeanor.
Weapons Charges and Justification for Use of Force
If you are caught carrying a firearm and you do not have a concealed carry permit, you could be charged with a third degree felony. Sentences for this kind of felony include up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
If you are caught carrying electronic weapons illegally, the charge is reduced to a first degree misdemeanor.
If you display a weapon in a threatening or angry manner for reasons other than self-defense, you will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.
If you use a weapon while committing or commissioning a crime, your penalties and sentence could be increased. However, if you get into an altercation and discharge your weapon, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” and use of force laws may grant you immunity. Certain situations justify the action of using deadly (a force likely to cause severe bodily harm, such as firing a gun) or non-deadly force.
You cannot, however, discharge a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, prescribed medication, or illegal substances.
Weapons charges can result in serious consequences, but Florida allows gun owners and those who act in self-defense unique forms of justice. If you carry a weapon or have been charged with weapon-related offenses, is important to know your rights regarding self-defense and concealed carry. Contact a Florida criminal defense attorney for a free review of your case.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.