Gun and weapon charges are serious crimes and are harshly prosecuted by the state attorney’s office in Hillsborough and surrounding counties. Some of these crimes carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence and may potentially lead to life in prison. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure you hire a competent criminal defense attorney experienced with gun charges.
On a federal level, the Second Amendment to the United State’s Constitution provides for the right to possess guns. The Second Amendment provides as follows:
“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Florida Constitution also has a provision dealing with the rights of citizens to possess guns. Article I, Section 8(a) of the Florida Constitution provides as follows:
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.”
Federal law as well as Florida state law makes it illegal for certain groups of people to posses a firearm/gun. These groups include the following:
A convicted felon, whose civil rights have not been restored
A juvenile convicted of a charge that would be a felony if charged as an adult
Anyone convicted of domestic violence
Anyone prohibited from possessing a gun based on a court order, such as a restraining order
A fugitive from justice
Anyone who has been committed to a mental institution or who has been found to have a mental disability
Anyone dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces
Any illegal alien or anyone who is present on a non-immigrant visa
Anyone who denounced their United State’s citizenship
Anyone under 16 unless the gun is not loaded and under parental supervision at home.
Florida also has a wide variety of criminal charges, related to guns. Some of the more popular crimes are listed below.
Under Florida Statute 790.23, it is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. This includes anyone adjudged delinquent as a juvenile of a charge that would be a felony if charged as an adult as well as anyone convicted of a felony in another jurisdiction. This is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. This charge carries a mandatory minimum of 3 years prison if found to be in actual possession of a gun.
Under Florida Statute 790.01 it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon unless you have a concealed weapon permit. This crime does not require an actual intent on parts of the defendant to conceal the firearm. All the prosecutor has to prove is that the defendant knew they had a weapon. This is a third degree felony and carries up to 5 years in prison.
Florida Statute 790.15 makes it a first degree misdemeanor to discharge a firearm in public. The prosecutor would have to prove that the defendant knowingly discharged a firearm
• In a public place, or
On the right of way of a paved road, highway or street, or
Over the right of way of a paved road, highway or street or over any occupied premises.
Florida Statute 790.10 makes the improper exhibition of a weapon a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. In order to prove the defendant is guilty of improper exhibition, the prosecutor has to prove the following:
The defendant carried a weapon
The defendant exhibited the weapon in a “rude, careless, angry or threatening manner”
The defendant did the above in the presence of at least one other person.
The prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant actually threatened someone. This charge is not just limited to firearms but also includes other types of weapons, including any electric weapon or a sword.
Other gun charges based on Florida Statute include the following:
Throwing, Making, Placing, Projecting, or Discharging Destructive Device § 790.161(1)-(4), F.S.
Threats to Throw, Place, Project, or Discharge Any Destructive Device § 790.162, F.S.
Furnishing Weapons to Minors § 790.17, F.S.
Dealer Selling Arms to Minors § 790.18, F.S.
Shooting or Throwing Missiles in Dwelling § 790.19, F.S.
Possession of Forbidden Firearms § 790.221, F.S.
Using a Firearm While under the Influence § 790.151, F.S.
Use of a BB Gun by a Person under 16 § 790.22, F.S.
Altering or Removing Firearm Serial Number/Sale or Delivery of Firearm with Serial Number Altered or Removed § 790.27, F.S.
Florida Statute 775.087 provides for minimum mandatory sentences for certain crimes if a gun was used during the commission of a forcible felony. The statute provides for a 10 year minimum mandatory sentence if a defendant possesses a gun or firearm, a 20 year minimum mandatory sentence if a defendant discharged a firearm and a minimum mandatory of 25 years to life if a defendant caused great bodily injury or death when discharging a firearm. These minimum mandatory sentences apply only if a defendant committed one of certain enumerated crimes. These crimes include:
Aggravated Abuse of the Elderly or Disabled;
Aggravated Child Abuse;
Unlawful discharge of a destructive device or bomb;
Trafficking in a controlled substance; and
Aggravated assault, felon in possession of a firearm and burglary of a conveyance carry a 3 year minimum mandatory sentence if the defendant was found in actual possession of a gun.
As you can see gun charges can have a huge impact on your life and can lead to lengthy prison sentences even for first time offenders. Therefore, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. We do not advice that you make any kind of statement to law enforcement if investigated for any type of gun charge. Your attorney is in the best position to talk to the prosecutor and present mitigating evidence on your behalf. If you or a loved one is charged with any kind of weapon charge in Tampa, Hillsborough County, call us today at 813-401-0130 for a free consultation with Kerstin Wade.