Firearm And Weapons Charges Lawyer in Jacksonville
The state of Florida is getting stricter when it comes to gun control and weapons laws. There are many different restrictions for Floridians who wish to purchase, own or carry a weapon. Some people cannot own a weapon at all, based on past criminal history. Felony convictions in general, domestic violence convictions of any kind, or active restraining orders, bar weapon ownership. In addition to crimes stemming from the possession of weapons, unrelated crimes involving a gun or weapon result in a substantial increase in the penalty.
The Second Amendment is often cited and misunderstood. Every Floridian has the right to bear arms. This is not an absolute right though and comes with substantial restrictions.
Attorney Lee Lockett of Lockett Law, P.A., represents gun owners (or those who wish to be) in Jacksonville and northeast Florida. As a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years’ experience, Lee Lockett has represented clients facing many different weapons charges. We customize our approach to fit our clients’ cases by listening to their legal goals and then outlining a plan on how to best achieve them. We can work with you to challenge local ordinances as well as state and federal laws.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon or Open Carry
Concealed weapons are defined in Florida Statutes § 790.001(3)(a) as “any dirk, metallic knuckles, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.” Most of the time “concealed weapons” and “concealed carry” are referring to firearms, defined in Florida Statutes § 790.001(2) as “any firearm, as defined in subsection (6), which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.”
It’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a “Concealed Weapon or Firearm License.” These can be obtained by taking an education course, applying to the state, and passing a background check. It is illegal to knowingly carry a firearm or weapon that is concealed on the person and out of sight.
The penalties for Unlawful Concealed Carry are outlined in Florida Statutes § 790.01.
- First Degree Misdemeanor – Allegations of concealment of a weapon that is not a firearm. This does not include: Self-defense chemical spray, stun gun (non-lethal), or any other non-lethal electric weapon or device for defensive purposes.
- Third Degree Felony – Allegations that the concealed weapon is a firearm, defined as: “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun,” but excludes antique firearms, unless they are used in a crime.
It is also unlawful to openly carry a firearm under any circumstances under Florida Statutes 790.053. If you are lawfully concealing a firearm, a brief window where a person can see it does not qualify as “open carry” as long as it’s not done in an angry or threatening manner. This protects people who are putting on a jacket or adjusting after exiting a vehicle. It does criminalize raising a shirt to show a weapon during an argument, or carrying a gun on the hip. This is a Second Degree Misdemeanor.
Possessing or Using a Weapon to Commit a Crime
All criminal activity should be avoided, but penalties can be especially severe when a weapon is used during an unrelated crime or after a conviction.
Florida Statutes § 790.23 establishes that if you have been convicted of a felony in the past it is illegal to possess a weapon unless your rights to do so have been restored after at least eight years.
- Second Degree Felony – Any possession of a weapon after a felony conviction
- First Degree Felony – If the prior offense was gang related
Domestic violence protection orders also prevent the ownership of weapons under all circumstances as long as they are active. Under Florida Statutes § 790.233 this is a First Degree Misdemeanor.
It is also illegal to possess a weapon if engaging in a crime under Florida Statutes § 790.07. It sounds kind of redundant to bring up someone breaking the law while already committing a felony, but charges and penalties can stack. In addition to this, judges can sentence much harsher because of the presence of a weapon. A conviction while carrying a weapon in any capacity can have life changing effects. Carrying a weapon (even completely concealed) while committing a felony adds this additional felony charge if caught.
- Third Degree Felony – Simply concealing a weapon during the crime
- Second Degree Felony – Displaying, using, threatening, or attempting to use the firearm during the felony
- First Degree Felony – Committing the offense with a prior conviction of one of the above
The penalties for using a weapon during a violent felony go even further, under Florida’s 10-20-Life law. Florida Statutes 775.087 further amplifies felonies with weapons involved. If a weapon is carried, used, displayed, or attempted to be used, the underlining felony is enhanced, a third degree felony becomes a second, a second becomes a first, and a first becomes a life felony.
In addition to this enhancement, if the gun is actually pulled out, a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison is mandatory. If the gun is fired, the minimum becomes 20 years. If the gun is fired at someone, that minimum becomes 25, but the maximum is life in prison.
Unlawful Use of a Firearm
Use of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol creates the potential for criminal charges. “Use” means to discharge the weapon or to have it immediately ready and able to be discharged, according to Florida Statutes § 790.151. It is an appropriate defense if the weapon was used to defend a person or property. This is charged as a Second Degree Misdemeanor.
Similar to a DUI investigation, a person suspected of using a weapon while under the influence “shall submit” to a chemical test, under Florida Statutes 790.153. Refusing to submit can later be used against you. Similar to driving on Florida roads, using a firearm in the state means that you must submit to this test if asked by police and they have probable cause.
It is also illegal to discharge a weapon at an inappropriate time, carrying the potential for life changing criminal penalties. It is generally advised to only discharge a firearm in two situations, a firing range (or something similar) or during a defensive situation. These penalties are especially severe when done from a moving vehicle. Failure to follow this rule can result in one of the below charges under Florida Statutes § 790.15.
- First Degree Misdemeanor
- Discharging a weapon over “any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street”
- Recklessly or negligently firing a gun outdoors on any property primarily used for a dwelling
- Target shooting in a residential area
- Third Degree Felony – Driving or owning a vehicle and directing another person to discharge the weapon
- Second Degree Felony – Discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a person, from (or in) a vehicle
Defenses to a Gun Charge in Florida
- Active License – Carrying a firearm concealed is legal while possessing a permit from Florida or a permit from one of 37 states with reciprocity.
- Lack of intoxication – If charged with discharge of a weapon while intoxicated, an experienced legal team like the one at Lockett Law can apply the skills learned in DUI defense to mount the best possible defense to the State’s charges.
- Constitutional Challenge – Most of these offenses require the police to at some point actually find the weapon, a constitutional challenge is raised when the police violate your rights during the investigation. If successful, these can have the potential to suppress all evidence you had a firearm and likely result in dismissal.
Common Gun And Weapon Charges in Jacksonville, Florida
We can often successfully defend clients facing the following weapons charges:
- Possession of an illegal weapon, including automatic weapons, sawed-off shotguns or an unregistered firearm
- Illegal discharge of a firearm
- Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit to do so
- Arms smuggling or trafficking
- Weapon violations at airports
- Brandishing a weapon
- Possession of explosives or materials to make a bomb
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
In the United States, possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felony is strictly prohibited and can carry some hefty jail time, including a likely minimum-mandatory sentence of three years. Possessing a firearm as a convicted felon is a second-degree felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida Department of Corrections. That being said, if the felon in possession of the firearm has charges that are related to gang activity, the charge could carry a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in state prison. Anyone who meets any of the following conditions is not eligible to own a firearm, ammunition, electric weapon, etc:
- Convicted Felon
- Guilty of committing a felony against the United States
- Found guilty of a juvenile crime that, had the defendant been an adult, would have resulted in a felony conviction
Improper Exhibition of a Firearm
Anyone in the state of Florida who displays a firearm in front of another individual in a manner that could in anyway be perceived as angry or threatening, may be charged with improper exhibition of a firearm under Florida Statute § 790.10. This specific charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, meaning it carries a sentence of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1000, or even both.
Possession of Ammunition
Similar to how a convicted felon is prohibited from possessing a firearm, the same goes for possessing ammunition. Possession of ammunition is a felony that could also result in a federal charge and will likely carry the same punishment as a felon in possession of a firearm, including a minimum-mandatory sentence in prison.
Gun trafficking is an extremely serious charge in the United States, especially in the state of Florida. In fact, this charge can be a felony charge in the state of Florida, but it can also be a federal charge if certain requirements are met, such as if the guns were transported and sold across state lines. The charge of smuggling or trafficking firearms is very serious and carries exceptionally harsh penalties.
Find an Experienced Concealed Weapon Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Lee Lockett and legal team at Lockett are based out of Jacksonville in Duval County, but travel all over North Florida to defend the rights of the accused. The team is prepared to defend your rights if you have been accused of any firearm offense in the state of Florida. Mr. Lockett understands how prosecutors work and how they think, he began his career prosecuting cases for the state. He has shifted that skillset to begin defending the rights of the accused and ensuring justice is served and that your rights aren’t violated. Call a Jacksonville firearm defense lawyer today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation.