Many weapons offenses occur everyday in Florida. While Florida’s statutes are strict on weapon possessions, weapons crimes are wobbler offenses. That means some are felonies, while others are misdemeanors. You or your family member, if accused of weapons charges, could spend years in prison or get fined. You want to hire a competent lawyer who can build a defense to counter such legal repercussions and secure your freedom.
At Arnold Law, we have criminal defense attorneys with proven track records. Our approach to defense entails looking at many factors like weapon ownership, possession, and self-defense to build a strong case against your charges. Our goal is to protect your rights when facing weapons charges.
Types of Weapons Offenses in Florida
Florida statutes provide that you should not violate your right to own a weapon. Some laws limit how you can put your firearm to use or where you could carry your gun or another weapon. If you commit any type of weapons crime, you could face severe charges. These weapons offenses include:
Carrying a Concealed and Unlicensed Weapon
Florida Statute section 790.01 states that it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon like an electric weapon, especially one that is not licensed per Florida Statute Chapter 790.06. However, if you carried a concealed weapon when Florida authorities issued a mandatory evacuation within 48 hours per chapter 870, you cannot get charged with an offense.
Per Florida law, carrying a concealed weapon is a first-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, possible sentencing includes serving in prison for one year, paying a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both. If your concealed weapon is unlicensed under Chapter 790.06, the prosecution charges you with a third-degree felony. Under Florida law, for this felony offense, you get fined an amount not more than $5,000 or serve time in prison for five years.
The Sale and Delivery of Firearms in Florida
According to Florida Statute Section 790.065(1), if you are a licensed manufacturer, importer, or dealer of any weapons in Florida, it is a crime to sell firearms to any person other than properly-licensed dealers, collectors, manufacturers, or importers.
These restrictions are upheld until you:
- Obtain written authorization from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
- Obtain a receipt of payment for criminal background checks from the buyer. The DLE is responsible for conducting these background checks
- Request for investigation of the buyer from the law enforcement department
- Obtain approval to proceed with the transaction
Punishment for Illegal Weapons Sale and Delivery
Potential penalties for persons who partake in the illicit dealership of firearms include:
- If caught offering false information when buying a weapon, the state charges you with a third-degree felony. Punishment for this felony is paying a fine not more than $5,000 or serving in prison for five years.
- If you are a licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer and you offer false information or flout weapon laws, the prosecution charges you with a third-degree felony. Here, you could pay a fine of not more than $5,000 or spend five years in prison.
- The prosecution team charges you with a third-degree felony if you falsify information or violate the weapons law as an agent or employee of license dealers, importers, or manufacturers. If found guilty, you could serve time in prison for five years or pay a fine of not above $5,000.
- If you are eligible to acquire a firearm but offer to buy on behalf of another illegible person, per Florida laws, the state charges you with a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could spend time in state prison for five years or pay a $5,000 fine or below.
- As a firearm dealer, you are prohibited from selling any weapon to persons below the age of 21 years. If caught, the court charges you with a third-degree felony. Possible punishment for this felony is a fine not exceeding $5,000 or a five-year term in state prison.
Possessing or Discharging a Firearm Within School Property
Chapter 790.115 of the Florida Statutes prohibits anyone from wielding any weapons such as a knife, gun, taser, sword, razor blade, and many others and threaten persons inside school property, the school bus, a site of a school trip, or within a radius of 1,000 feet from the school.
Potential Penalties for Brandishing Weapons on School Property
Wielding a weapon with a school vicinity is a third-degree felony offense in Florida. If found guilty of this crime, you risk serving time in prison for up to five years or paying a fine of at most $5,000.
Also, if you load a firearm near a minor, the court charges you with a second-degree misdemeanor. The punishment for this offense is a fine not exceeding $500 or serving time in prison for 60 days.
If you discharge your firearm when not defending yourself, when 1,000 ft within school property, the prosecution charges you with a second-degree felony. If convicted, you could remain in prison for up to fifteen years or pay a $10,000 fine.
Opening Fire in a Public Space or Residential Area
Per FS Chapter 790.15, it is an offense to intentionally and willingly discharge a firearm in public or public spaces like highways, roadways, open spaces, residential places, and streets. The state charges you with a first-degree misdemeanor if arrested for discharging a firearm in public. The court could sentence you in court for one year in state prison or fine you an amount of up to $1,000.
Additional charges imposed for the crime of discharging a firearm in public are:
- A second-degree felony charge if, as a motorist or passenger, you negligently and willingly fire a weapon within 1,000 feet of someone in public. If convicted, you could pay a fine of up to $10,000 or go to prison for 15 years
- A third-degree felony charge, if you are a driver, and make a passenger discharge a weapon in public spaces. You could serve time in prison for five years or pay a fine not over $5,000 if found guilty
- A first-degree misdemeanor if you open fire endangering others. If found guilty, the jury could sentence you to prison for one year or fine you not more than $1,000
Using a Firearm While Intoxicated
FS Section 790.151 dictates that it is a criminal offense to open fire or discharge a dangerous weapon while intoxicated. A Florida court could charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor if you commit this crime. The judge could sentence you to prison for 60 days or fine you an amount not exceeding $500.
Opening Fire Using a Machine Gun
Under Florida Statute Chapter 790.16, you are prohibited to brandish and open fire using a machine gun to cause harm to someone else or damage property. If arrested for wielding and discharging a machine gun, the prosecution charges you with a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony per the law is penalized by either going to prison for 30 years or paying a fine not below $10,000 and not above $15,000.
Improper Exhibition of Dangerous Weapons or Firearms in Public
Per specifications dictated in Title XLVI Chapter 790.10 of the Florida Statutes, you commit an offense if you unethically and inappropriately wield a firearm or weapon with purposes other than self-defense in a public space.
The prosecution charges you with a first-degree misdemeanor if found guilty of unethically brandishing a firearm in public. Possible punishment for this crime is serving time in prison for one year or pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Throwing, Possessing, or Building Weapons
Title XLVI Chapter 790.161 of Florida laws prohibits anyone from illegally throwing, manufacturing, organizing, or distributing, weapons, and firearms. Violating Chapter 790.161 of the Florida Statutes is a third-degree felony. If found guilty of this crime, you are sentenced to prison for five years or fined an amount of up to $5,000.
Also, the jury increases your charges to a second-degree felony if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt you had the intention of causing injuries to someone else or damaging property. This crime attracts severe punishment, for instance, a fine of up to $10,000 or a 15-year sentence in state prison.
If your victim succumbs to injuries after throwing weapons at them, the prosecution charges you with a capital felony. With such a charge, you could get sentenced to life imprisonment or fined up to $15,000.
Projecting or Detonating of Destructive Devices and Bombs
Title XLVI Chapter 790.1615 dictates that throwing, or even discharging a bomb or an explosive device that could cause harm to someone else irrespective of your intentions is illegal. If arrested for violating Chapter 790.1615, the prosecutor charges you with a first-degree misdemeanor. The potential punishment for this crime is a fine of up to $1,000 or serving time in prison for one year.
The jury increases your charges if someone incurs severe injuries like disfigurement or amputation after you detonate the explosive weapon. Here, the state charges you with a second-degree felony and impose penalties of either a fine of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Making a False Report About the Placement of a Bomb or Other Explosives
You violate FS Chapter 790.163 if you falsify a report on the placement of a bomb or other explosive devices to invoke fear or mislead the public in Florida. The prosecution charges you with a second-degree felony if arrested for violating chapter 790.163. The potential penalty for this crime is a fine not surpassing $10,000 and serving time in prison for 15 years.
Fabricating, Possessing or Carrying Weapons of Mass Destruction
Title XLVI Chapter 790.166 of Florida Statutes dictates that it is an offense to own, make, threaten, or attempt to use weapons of mass destruction.
Weapons of mass destruction per Florida laws are those that:
- You create with the intent of causing severe injuries to innocent people
- Comprise of biological components like infectious chemicals, microorganisms, and viruses
- Are built to emit radioactive substances that can cause harm to people and animals or even kill them in extreme cases
- Comprise of vectors, delivery systems, or toxins
Violating Chapter 790.166 is a second-degree felony in Florida. If the court finds you guilty, you could spend up to 15 years in prison or pay a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Selling or Transferring Weapons or Firearms to Minors
You are prohibited under Title XLVI Section 790.17 to sell or hand out any form of weapons to persons under the age of 18 years without the consent of their parents or custodians. You get charged with the first-degree misdemeanor if arrested for violating Chapter 790.17.
Possible sentencing or penalties the court could impose is a fine of up to $1,000 or serving time in prison for one year. If you sell a firearm to a minor, the court charges you with a third-degree felony. Possible punishment is imprisonment for five years or getting fined up to $5,000.
Prior Violent Crime Defendants and Firearms Possession
Title XLVI Chapter 790.235 of Florida Statutes dictate that if you have a criminal history of engaging in violence per FS Section 775.084(1)(d), it is illegal to own or discharge a firearm. You are charged with the first-degree felony if found guilty of violating Chapter 790.235. The potential punishment for this crime is paying a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $15,000. The court could instead sentence you to 30 years in prison.
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
Florida Statute 790.23 defines the crime of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. If you are a convicted felon, the state must prove, when prosecuting you that:
- You have had a felony conviction in the past
- You knowingly and unethically possessed, carried, or had access to a weapon, firearm, or ammunition
If found in possession of a gun, you serve a three-year minimum mandatory sentence and not more than 15 years in prison. If convicted for the possession of ammunition, there is no minimum mandatory sentence. The judge has the jurisdiction to sentence you for not more than 15 years in prison.
Are You Aware of the Florida 10/20/Life Statute?
The 10/20/life law that Florida imposes is a weapon enhancement that could increase the punishment for a weapon offense or effect minimum-mandatory sentences when you use a weapon to commit specific crimes like:
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
Per Florida Statute 784.021 FS, an assault is making threats to someone else. Your charges could get enhanced to aggravated assault if you use a weapon or firearm to threaten your victim. Possible penalties for the crime are dictated in FS 775.087, and the prosecution must prove the elements below before the court can convict you:
- You unlawfully and willingly threatened someone else through an act or word to commit violence against them
- During the threat, you could execute the threat
- Your threats instigated fear in your victim
- You assaulted the victim using a deadly weapon, or you had a decision to commit a felonious act against your victim
- In the event of your crime commission, you brandished and threatened or attempted to use a firearm
Sentencing for Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
If found guilty of an aggravated assault when wielding a weapon, you must serve time in prison for a minimum of three years to a maximum of five years. If you open fire when assaulting your victim, you must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. If someone else incurs severe injuries or dies after you use a dangerous weapon when assaulting them, the court could impose the 25-life minimum mandatory sentence
Exceptions to The Minimum Mandatory Sentences for Aggravated Assault with A Firearm Lawsuits
According to Florida Statute Section 775.087(3)(e)(6), the jury cannot impose the mandatory minimum sentences if it is discovered that:
- You had a reasonable belief that the assault was necessary to save a life
- You did not commit an aggravated assault when committing another offense
- You never posed a threat to the public
Aggravated Battery/ Assault with a Deadly Weapon
According to Florida Statutes, battery happens when you unlawfully make contact with someone else against their will or when the contact causes a bodily injury to them. Aggravated battery occurs when you intentionally cause significant harm, severe injury, impairment, or disfigurement to someone else.
In court, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used a deadly weapon to assault your victim. This crime is a second-degree felony, and if found guilty, you could serve up to 15 years in state prison. If you shot your victim, your penalties are enhanced to 25 years per 10/20/life mandatory sentences.
Robbery with Violence
Robbery with violence is one of the most serious crimes you could commit in Florida. If you used any weapon to commit robbery, you could attract sentencing of over 25 years in prison. if your victim dies in the event of a robbery, the penalty is life in prison.
10-20-Life Minimum Mandatory Sentences
The court could impose this sentence if you got arrested and charged with the possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony. The state dictates that if you open fire when committing a felony, you subject yourself to a prison sentence of not less than 20 years. You get imprisoned for not less than 25 years or life-imprisonment in state prison if, when committing a felonious act, open fire causing a severe bodily injury to someone else.
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law and Self-Defense
The "Stand Your Ground" Law under chapter 776.013(3) dictates that if you are not committing an unlawful act, and someone else attacks you in any place you have constitutional rights to be in, you don’t have to retreat. Instead, the law allows you to stand your ground and fight force with force.
You could use deadly force if you have a reasonable belief that it prevents you or another person from getting killed or incurring severe injuries. You can also use deadly force when you are confident that you are helping prevent someone from committing a forcible felony.
In 2005, the lawmakers enacted Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense statute and created many controversies. So many people feared that everyone was bequeathed the right to use weapons as they pleased.
Before the Enactment of the "Stand Your Ground" Statute
Before the government passed the Stand Your Ground law, you could counter non-deadly force with only non-deadly force. You could use only deadly force to prevent someone else from killing you or inflicting severe bodily injuries to you or another person. Deadly force was also allowed when thwarting the commission of a forcible felony.
You had the “duty to retreat” before initiating deadly force unless you were in your workplace or home. Per the “Castle Doctrine," you had no duty to retreat before using deadly force to fight an attacker if you were in your home
The "Stand Your Ground" Law After Enactment
After the enactment of the "Stand Your Ground" statute, there was an institution of two irrefutable presumptions, which support an unlawful defendant presenting a self-defense defense. These are:
- The defendant has a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was needed
- The attacker had the intent to perform an illegal act, which included the use of deadly force and violence
These presumptions defend you from criminal and civil prosecution for the use of unnecessary non-deadly and deadly force. With this law, you have no duty to retreat irrespective of where your attack occurs as long as you are in any place lawfully.
Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me
You want to hire an experienced Florida criminal lawyer the instance you learn that the authorities are investigating you or have charged you with a weapons offense. Strict statute laws and severe penalties that Florida imposes are what you could encounter without the help of your lawyer. At Arnold Law, we look at clients’ cases closely and help them identify ideal strategies to defend them against criminal charges concerning weapons or firearm crimes. Let us assist you with your case by dialing 904-264-3627 today.