When a person is convicted of a Felony in Florida certain rights are taken away. Felony offenders are commonly referred to as “Felons.” These rights include the right to vote, jury service, right to run for and hold public office, and the possession of firearms. Federal and State law prevent felony offenders from possession firearms or ammunition. The punishment for possession of a weapon by a felon can be extremely severe, and the charge itself can be quite complicated. If you or a loved one is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, it is critical to contact an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville as soon as possible.
When is it Illegal to Possess a Weapon Based on Criminal History?
Florida Statutes § 790.23 outlines the crime in detail. The weapons which may be illegal include: firearms, ammunition, electric weapon, or a concealed chemical weapon. The categories of individuals this applies to are:
- A person convicted of a felony in Florida;
- A person convicted of a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult and the person in question is under the age of 24;
- A person convicted of or found to have committed a crime which is a felony at the federal level; or,
- A person with a conviction in another state, territory or country that is designated as a felony and carries incarceration of over a year.
Possession of the above can be proven through actual or constructive possession. Actual possession means that the weapon was in the control of the accused, on the person, within reach, in a pocket, etc. Constructive possession means that the weapon is recovered somewhere that can be tied back to the accused, such as a glove box or a safe.
Penalties for a Felon Possessing a Firearm in Florida
The penalties for Possession of a weapon by a felon are:
- First Degree Felony
Charged when the underlying offense has ties to gang activity in accordance with Florida Statutes § 874.04.
- Up to thirty years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, or both.
- Second Degree Felony
All other violations are charged as second degree felonies.
- Up to fifteen years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, or both.
These offenses also very frequently include probation, destruction of the weapon, and other penalties as the sentencing court sees fit.
Clemency in Florida – Restoration of Rights
If you have been convicted of a felony in or out of the state of Florida, but your Florida civil rights are being withheld due to the conviction, there is an application for a restoration for some or all of these rights. In 2018 Florida voters voted 64% to 35% to restore voting rights to most convicted felons. Unfortunately, this initiative did not apply to the right to own a firearm. Instead, those individuals must make the above application to the Florida Commission on Offender Review. Eligibility begins eight years after the completion of the FULL sentence (including any probationary terms). Even once the time period has elapsed clemency is a subjective determination and can be rejected for a multitude of reasons. It is highly advised to speak to a criminal defense attorney who can help you through the process.
Defenses to Being Charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm
- Possession Challenge – Actual possession cases are pretty difficult to argue against on this front, but in constructive possession cases it can often be successfully argued that the accused did not have access to the weapon, or that someone else did.
- Constitutional Challenge – This does not 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 did not violate your rights during the investigation, and potentially suppressing all evidence you had a firearm or other weapon. If successful, these challenges will often stop a case dead and result in dismissal.
- Felon Status – Sometimes the underlying conviction does not actually qualify under the statute, or the right to own a firearm has been restored in the state of offense. If your defense attorney can prove either of these to the prosecutor, it will often result in a dismissal.
Firearm Possession by a Felon 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 Possession of a Firearm as a Felon 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 are not violated. Call a Jacksonville assault 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.