Weapons Offenses & Firearm Charges
While Florida has liberal firearms regulations compared to many other states, Florida still has enacted numerous legal requirements regarding the use and possession of those firearms. Almost all firearm offenses are felonies punishable by possible incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections and many of these offenses carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. Due to the seriousness of these offenses, you should always retain counsel if you or someone you know has been arrested for a weapons offense. Mr. Glassman will gladly consult with you about your case and chart the best path forward for your defense.
Discharging a Firearm in Public
Florida Statute 790.15 details the crime of discharging a firearm in public. In its most simple form, this offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up 364 days in the county jail. If, however, the person shoots from a vehicle and near a person or into/at/within a dwelling, the offense is raised to a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years of incarceration. The particular facts and circumstances of the offense thus have a tremendous impact on the potential incarceration that a defendant faces. Mr. Glassman can review the case and advocate for a lesser charge or can raise one of numerous possible defenses, as appropriate.
In order to prove the misdemeanor offense of Discharging a Firearm in Public, the State Attorney must establish only one elements: that the defendant knowingly discharged a firearm in a public place. If, however, the firearm was discharged on residential property then the State Attorney only has to prove that the defendant recklessly or negligently discharged the firearm on the residential property. The difference between these standards is extremely important. “Knowingly” means with full knowledge and intentionally. “Recklessly” means with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences. “Negligently” means failing to use reasonable care under the circumstances. If the defendant is charged with the felony offense of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, then the State Attorney must prove two elements:
- The defendant was an occupant of a vehicle.
- The defendant knowingly and willfully discharged a firearm from that vehicle within 1000 feet of any person.
If you or someone you know has been charged with this offense, reach out to Mr. Glassman immediately so that he can advise you and defend you against these serious charges.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm
As is true of most states, it is unlawful in Florida for a person who has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. While that seems simple Florida has specific rules that a person with a criminal history may unwittingly violate. For example, a “felon” for purposes of this statute includes the following:
- Someone who has been convicted of a felony in Florida.
- Someone who was found delinquent in Florida’s juvenile court system of an offense which would be considered a felony if committed by an adult.
- Someone who has been convicted of a federal offense.
- Someone who has committed an offense in another state that was punishable by over one year of incarceration, even if that offense is not considered a “felony” in the state of that offense.
Additionally, if a convicted felon has his or her rights restored, then that person may lawfully possess a firearm. Given the complex statutory regime at issue, it is vital that you reach out to an experienced attorney like Mr. Glassman who can thoughtfully analyze your legal situation and forcefully advocate on your behalf.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon or Firearm
A person in Florida may lawfully carry a concealed firearm only if that person has first obtained the necessary concealed carry permit. As you can see from the news articles linked below, Florida has and will continue to tinker with its concealed carry laws to broaden an individual’s Second Amendment right to possess a firearm. If, however, the person does not have the correct license, then that person can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail for a weapon or a third degree felony offense punishable by up to 5 years of incarceration if the weapon was a firearm.
To prove the offense of carrying a concealed weapon or firearm, the State Attorney must prove the following two elements:
- The defendant knowingly carried on or about his person the weapon at issue.
- The weapon was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.
The law defining what constitutes a “concealed weapon” becomes especially complex when a weapon is found within a vehicle. The courts will look to where the item was located in relation to the defendant, what state the weapon was in, whether the weapon was inside a locked or unlocked container, etc. Even determining whether an item was hidden from ordinary sight is a complex matter. The courts have defined this as
The casual and ordinary observation of another in the normal associations of life. A weapon need not be completely hidden for it to be concealed. However, a weapon is not concealed if, although not fully exposed, its status as a weapon is detectable by ordinary observation.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with this offense, you should contact an attorney immediately. Mr. Glassman will zealously advocate for you and ensure that your rights are fully protected.
- Florida Statute 790.15, Discharging a Firearm in Public
- Florida Statute 790.19, Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle
- Florida Statute 790.23, Felon in Possession of a Firearm
- Florida Statute 790.01, Carrying a Concealed Firearm
- Weapons Offenses Jury Instructions, Florida Supreme Court
Recent Appellate Cases
- Florida Carry, Inc. v. University of Florida, 180 So.3d 137 (Fla. 1st 2015) – The University of Florida cannot administratively pass stricter gun control requirements than that which has been written into statute.
- Kraay v. State, 148 So.3d 789 (Fla. 1st 2014) – There must be proof that a firearm is in fact a replica and not a modern firearm for a defendant to raise the issue that the felon in possession of a firearm statute is unconstitutionally vague for failing to define what is a replica antique firearm.
- Valdes v. State, 3 So.3d 1067, (Fla. 2009) – dual convictions for discharging a firearm from a vehicle within 1000 feet of a person and shooting into an occupied vehicle arising from the same criminal episode violate double jeopardy.
- Florida Senate Kills Open Carry Law, Miami Herald
- Court to Take a Second Look at Law Restricting Doctors from Discussing Firearms, Wall Street Journal
- Give Florida Judges Flexibility in Sentencing, Bradenton Herald Editorial