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Is having a weapon without permission a felony in Florida?

Everyone makes mistakes, but in Florida, if you make a mistake with a gun, you could be charged with a felony. Even though not all weapons charges in Florida are as serious as assault with a deadly weapon, it is still possible to go to jail for things like carrying a gun without a license.

If you are facing weapons charges in Florida or have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, it is important to understand the charge, the possible penalties, and how our experienced The Arroyo Law Firm Fort criminal defense attorney can help.

Section 790.01(2) of the Florida Statutes says that it is illegal to carry a gun that can't be seen. "A person who carries a hidden gun on or about his person commits a felony of the third degree," the law says.

Penalties For Concealed Gun Carry

In a case involving a hidden gun, a person could spend a long time in jail. In many judicial circuits, prosecutors will often start negotiations with offers that include a lot of jail or prison time. Under Chapter 790 of the Florida Gun Statutes, carrying a concealed gun without a concealed weapon license is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if convicted.

When they get out of prison, convicted felons also have to deal with other bad things. For example, they may lose the right to vote or own a gun, and their education and job opportunities may be limited.

Unlawful Concealed Weapon Possession: Know the Laws in Florida

In Florida, it is against the law to carry a hidden gun without a permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) or a similar agency from another state. Even if you have a license to own a gun, you can't carry a hidden gun in Florida without a concealed weapon license.

The State's Burden in Concealed Weapon Possession Cases: Proving Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

To prove the crime in court, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following three things:

The defendant knew he had a gun on or near him. The gun was hidden from someone else's normal view. At the time, the defendant did not have a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. See Fla. Std. Jury Instructions (Crim) 10.1 KNOWLEDGE OF POSSESSION

In a case where a gun is being hidden, the element of knowledge is met if the defendant knows he or she is in possession of the gun. There is no need for the accused to have meant to "hide" the gun. Dorelus v. State, 747 So. 2d 368, 371 (Fla. 1999).

Carrying Concealed Weapons in Private Vehicles: Understanding the Exception in Florida Law

Florida's law against carrying concealed weapons or firearms without a license doesn't apply if the weapon or firearm is "securely encased" in a car or other "private conveyance." The Florida Statutes, Section 790.25(5), says:

It is legal and not against s. 790.01 for a person 18 or older to carry a concealed gun or other weapon for self-defense or another lawful reason inside a private vehicle, even without a license, as long as the gun or other weapon is locked up or in a place where it can't be used right away.

Police Cannot Make Arrests Based Solely on Seeing a Hidden Weapon: Kilburn v. State

A police officer can't hold or arrest someone just because they have a gun or weapon hidden. Kilburn v. State, 297 So 3d 671, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). So, if a police officer approaches a car, sees part of a weapon in the passenger compartment, and tries to make an arrest or investigative detention based only on seeing a weapon, any evidence they get must be thrown out because of the exclusionary rule in the Fourth Amendment. Id.

Exploring Potential Defenses for Possession of a Firearm Charges

As you can see, the elements for the various charges of possession of a firearm are similar. So the Defenses that we would explore would involve looking at potential weaknesses in any of these elements.

  • You did not know the gun was in the house, car, etc.,

  • It was not your gun and you had no access or control over the gun,

  • You have not been convicted of a felony,

  • You are not on probation,

  • You were not guilty of the related felony that you are charged with,

  • There was no connection between the gun and the related felony, etc.

Justifications For Carrying A Concealed Gun

Under Florida law, there are many ways to fight against being charged with Carrying a Concealed Firearm. Here are some of the most common ones:

The gun was not in the defendant's hands (it was not on or around his body);

  • Lack of proof that the person knew about the gun;

  • The weapon was not easy to get to or, in the case of a private vehicle like a car, was not easy to get to and use right away (see below);

  • It was easy to see the weapon;

  • The weapon wasn't in the defendant's sole possession, so neither that he knew it was there nor that he had it can be proven.

  • The defendant had a license to carry a gun concealed;

  • The weapon was either "securely encased" (see below) or not ready to be used right away.

Exceptions To Hidden Weapons

In addition to the above defenses, Florida law also has a number of exceptions for carrying a concealed weapon in which criminal liability does not apply or different legal standards apply.

There are some circumstances where you can carry a concealed weapon without a license. These exceptions are very narrow and apply to very specific instances. It is best to apply for a concealed weapons license if you need to carry a weapon on a regular basis. Below is a list of the exceptions to carrying a concealed weapon without a license:

  • Individuals who have firearms at their home or privately owned place of business

  • Members of clubs organized for collecting or exhibiting antique firearms

  • Individuals engaged in hunting, fishing or camping who have the proper hunting licenses

  • Individuals engaged in lawful manufacturing, repairing or dealing in firearms

Fishing, Camping, and Hunting Exceptions to Concealed Weapon Laws in Florida

Section 790.25(3)(h) of the Florida Statutes says that concealed carry license requirements (Section 790.06) and open carry bans (Section 790.053) do not apply to "person(s) engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or coming from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition."

Defend Your Rights with Expert Legal Assistance: Carrying a Concealed Firearm Charge Defense Available Now

If you are accused of Carrying a Concealed Firearm, you may have ways to fight the charge or avoid the harsh penalties that come with a conviction. Here at the Arroyo Law Firm, we offer complete defense services and inexpensive payment plans to help offenders defend their rights. For a free case evaluation, reach out to us online or by phone at 407-770-9000. Knowing your alternatives won't cost you anything, even if you decide not to hire us.

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