The implementation of the second amendment has recently become one of the most important topics in politics and our election. It’s also one the country can’t seem to make up its mind on.
States like Texas have made big news for allowing guns to be carried on college campuses, but a recent Supreme Court decision upheld the ban of firearms for domestic violence offenders, even at the misdemeanor level.
The ban of firearms for convicted criminals does not stop at domestic violence offenders in the state of Florida. Our state has made it illegal for all convicted felons to possess firearms.
So what if you’re a convicted felon and you get caught with a gun? What happens?
Penalties for Possessing a Firearm as a Convicted Felon
This ban means that if you have been convicted of a felony (or a crime in any other state or country that has penalties of over a year in prison), you lose your second amendment rights.
Even worse, the penalties for possessing or carrying a firearm as a convicted felon are serious. You can be charged with a second degree felony. That means you could face up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, or fines of up to $10,000.
However, these penalties do not apply if you have had your record expunged, or if your civil rights and firearm authority have been restored after you served your sentence.
There is one exception to this law, which was clarified, decided, and adjusted only a few weeks ago. In Weeks vs. State, a convicted felon was arrested for using an antique rifle to hunt.
He challenged his arrest. Pre-1918 antiques and replicas of antiques are listed in Florida’s statutes as instruments separate from firearms. Weeks’ conviction was reversed, because upon further review, the court decided that they needed to clarify the rules on possessing antique firearms.
In current laws, Weeks’ firearm would still not be allowed, because the firearm had a modern scope attached that was not made before 1918, nor was it a replica of an accessory made before 1918.
If you plan on carrying an antique replica, be sure to look through each of its parts and accessories, and make sure they fit the description of “antique replica.”
What about Stand Your Ground?
There is another law that trumps the rules about convicted felons and firearms: Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law.
In 2013, a convicted felon named Aaron A. Little was put on trial for the murder of Demond Brooks. Brooks had approached and pulled two handguns on Little. After attempting to flee the scene, Little shot and killed Brooks. He was charged with second-degree murder, but claimed he was acting in self-defense.
The Stand Your Ground Law gives everyone the right to “stand his or her ground,” rather than retreat, in the event that they believe they are facing great bodily harm or being the victim of a felony crime. The law even protects your right to use deadly force as long as you are standing your ground.
With Little vs. State, it was decided that even though Little was engaged in unlawful activity (the possession of the firearm), he was still entitled to the Stand Your Ground law.
These restrictions are not only important for convicted felons to know, but also anyone who has been arrested or charged for a felony crime. If you have been charged, it is important to know the sentence you may face and the penalties that will follow you after you complete your sentence. Contact a Florida defense lawyer for a free review of your case and how you can fight the charges against you.
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.