The Second Amendment to the Constitution is one of the best known and most misunderstood Amendments. It is often unclear what this “right to bear arms” does and does not include when applied to 21st century Florida law.
Floridians are fortunate to live in a state where the right to bear arms includes the right to carry a concealed weapon. There are nevertheless substantial restrictions on this right, and failure to conform with the law can result in serious criminal penalties, regardless of your intent.
What is a Concealed Weapon in Florida?
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.” These definitions are fairly straightforward, but the confusion comes when discussing how these actions can be illegal.
When is it Illegal to Conceal a Weapon?
The short answer is that 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.
If you have been accused of concealing a weapon in violation of Florida law, it is important to speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney. Officers are often unclear on the specifics of when concealing a weapon is allowed. Officers will often espouse the 3-step rule for vehicle carry, that there must be three distinct actions to reach the weapon This rule does not exist under Florida law. Sometimes individual will be cited even though the weapon is not actually on their person. It is important to speak to an experienced Jacksonville Criminal defense attorney who can defend your rights if you have been accused.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida
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.
- Up to a full year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, or both.
- 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.
- Up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, or both.
There is an exception for individuals who carry a weapon during an evacuation, backed by a mandatory government order. This applies within 48 hours and allows individuals to defend themselves from looters and other people who may take advantage of an emergency to sow violence.
Defenses to Accusations of Carrying a Concealed Weapon
- Active License – Occasionally individuals may be charged with this violation when actually authorized to conceal carry.
- Reciprocity – Florida has reciprocity with at least 37 states for concealed carry purposes. If an officer cites you, even though your home state has reciprocity, and your carry authority is valid, you may have a strong case for dismissal.
- Concealment Challenge – It is also possible to challenge the actual level of concealment, and whether or not the necessary factors are met for the state to prove their case.
- Constitutional Challenge – This doesn’t generally refer to challenging the statue as unconstitutional, which has been well regulated. Instead, these types of challenges turn to the fourth and fifth amendments, ensuring that the police didn’t violate your rights during the investigation, and potentially suppressing all evidence you had a firearm if successful.
Find a Concealed Weapon Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Lee Lockett and legal team at Lockett Law are based out of 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 Unlawful Concealed Carry anywhere 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 assault 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.