Carrying a concealed weapon or firearm without a proper concealed carry permit is a serious charge and depending on the circumstances can be either a felony or misdemeanor and lead to a prison sentence up to 5 years.
In order to prove the charge of carrying a concealed weapon, the state attorney has to prove that:
The defendant knowingly carried a concealed weapon and
The weapon was concealed and not visible to an ordinary person.
Under Florida statute 790.01 a weapon includes any electric device or weapon but does not include a chemical spray, such as pepper spray or “nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.”
This is a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and / or probation.
To prove the charge of carrying a concealed firearm the state attorney has to prove that the defendant:
Knowingly carried a concealed firearm and
That the gun was not visible to an ordinary person.
Carrying a concealed firearm is much more serious and a third degree felony. It is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and / or probation and a $5000 fine.
Florida statute 790.01 lists several exceptions and circumstances under which criminal charges for carrying of a concealed weapon or firearm cannot be filed. One exception allows the concealed carry of a chemical spray or nonlethal stun gun or non-lethal weapon for purposes of self defense.
Another exception allows anyone who is legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry a concealed firearm while evacuating if all of the following circumstances are met:
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area,
The mandatory evacuation order is not older than 48 hours unless extended by the governor,
The governor has declared a state of emergency.
Even if you are found to be carrying a concealed weapon, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you establish one of several defenses. If the defense is able to establish one of the following defenses, the criminal charges would be dismissed.
One obvious defense is if the defendant had a permit that allowed him or her to carry a concealed weapon or firearm legally. This is a complete defense to the charges and would result in a complete dismissal of the charges.
Another defense would be if the police found the weapon or firearm as a result of an illegal search or seizure. An example of this is if the police stopped you for a traffic stop, for example speeding, and then completes the stop with writing a speeding ticket. After issuing the ticket, the police then orders you out of your car and searches the car without any probable cause and without your permission. During that search the police finds a gun in your glove box, which they did not see previously. This prolonged detention after the ticket was issued and the search are illegal and since the gun was found as a result of this search, the state is not able to use this gun as evidence. Without being able to use the gun, the state would not be able to prove the charges.
Another defense is that the weapon or firearm was not actually concealed. This would be the case if an ordinary person was in fact able to see the gun. If the weapon was not concealed, you would be again not guilty of the criminal charges.
Charges Typically police are not allowed to arrest someone for a misdemeanor unless they observed the crime being committed or they have an arrest warrant. Carrying a concealed weapon is an exception to this requirement and allows them to arrest you even without a warrant.
Carrying a concealed weapon or firearm is a serious criminal offense and can affect your life. A criminal conviction for these charges cannot only lead to jail or prison time but can also cause you to lose your job and as a result your place to live. Therefore, it is extremely important to hire a knowledgable and skilled criminal defense attorney who will leave no stone unturned to defend you against these allegations. Kerstin Wade has been practicing law for over 10 years and has handled many cases like these successfully. Kerstin Wade has an office directly in downtown Tampa, not far from the Hillsborough County courthouse and offers free consultations. We handle cases in Tampa, Plant City, Brandon and all other parts of Hillsborough County as well as Polk County. Contact us today at 813-401-0130 to talk to Kerstin Wade about your case.