The state of Florida takes weapons offenses quite seriously. Notably, if convicted of a weapons offense, you will be left with a criminal record that will compromise your employment prospects, ability to find housing, and lead to other detrimental consequences.
Unfortunately, many weapons offenses are committed inadvertently by otherwise law-abiding citizens. Therefore, if you are a firearm or weapon enthusiast, it is imperative to understand Florida’s weapons laws in order to avoid being charged with an offense.
Unlicensed Carrying of a Concealed Firearm
Unlicensed carrying of a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in prison, and up to five years of probation. Because this is a felony-level offense, you will also be prohibited from possessing firearms in the future.
Unlicensed Carrying of a Concealed Weapon
Carrying a concealed weapon other than a firearm, such as brass knuckles, a slingshot, a chemical weapon, a billy club, or other deadly weapon, is a first-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail and up to one year of probation.
You are permitted to carry a concealed weapon if you have a concealed carry license from Florida or another state. Importantly, self-defense products such as pocket knives, non-deadly tasers, and mace are not considered to be concealed weapons.
Improper Exhibition of a Dangerous Weapon or Firearm
Carrying a dangerous weapon or firearm and displaying it in a rude, careless, or threatening manner to one or more people is a first-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail and up to one year of probation. If the weapon was displayed in self-defense, the defendant should be able to successfully fight this charge.
Possessing or Discharging a Weapon at a School-Sponsored Event
Brandishing or discharging a weapon at a school-sponsored event or on the grounds of a school is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in prison, and up to five years of probation. A further consequence would be a prohibition from possessing firearms in the future. If the act was committed in lawful self-defense, such would allow for successfully defending against this charge.
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
As mentioned above, convicted felons are prohibited from owning, possessing, or controlling firearms. This offense is a second-degree felony, and is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines, up to 15 years in prison, and up to 15 years on probation.
Allowing a Minor to Access a Loaded Firearm
Allowing a child under 16 to access a loaded firearm is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail. If the firearm was stored in a place that the defendant reasonably believed was secure, or if the child accessed the firearm by unlawful entry, this charge may also be defensible.
Weapons Enhancement Charges
Carrying or discharging a firearm during the commission of certain violent crimes results in a weapons enhancement charge.
The most common enhancement is the notorious 10-20-Life enhancement, which carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence as follows:
- 10 year mandatory minimum sentence for carrying a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
- 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for discharging a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
- 25 year mandatory minimum if a person is shot or killed during the commission of a violent crime, and frequently up to a life sentence.
If you are facing a weapons charge, fight back by retaining the best available criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she can make sure that your rights are protected and maximize your chance of a favorable outcome.
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.