Florida gun laws impose relatively few restrictions on the possession of firearms. Unless a person lost his or her ownership rights, people are legally allowed to buy or own a firearm. However, there are certain guns that are illegal in Florida.
If you are found in illegal possession of a firearm, you could face criminal charges that can result in incarceration, fines and a criminal record. Given the severity of these consequences, below is more information about what guns are in Florida as well as the possible penalties for these charges.
What Guns Are Illegal in Florida?
According to Florida Statute § 790.221, people are prohibited from owning or being in possession of short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, or machine guns that are in operable conditions. It is not illegal to possess these guns as long as they are antique firearms.
Although Florida law respects the Second Amendment, there are certain firearms that are illegal in the state. As a result, people that are not licensed by the federal government are not allowed to carry, possess or own any of these guns. According to the law, illegal guns in Florida include:
- Machine guns: are automatic firearms that are able to shoot its ammunition without having to manually reload.
- Short-barreled rifles: according to Florida Statute § 790.001, this type of gun includes a rifle with one or more barrels less than 16 inches and any weapon that was made or modified from a rifle.
- Short-barreled shotguns: includes guns with one or more barrels less than 18 inches or any weapon made from a shotgun and whose length is less than 26 inches.
However, the law also establishes that these weapons will be classified as antique firearms if they or their ammunition were manufactured in or before 1898. Given that antique firearms are not ready to be used and might form part of an exhibition or a collection, it is not illegal to own or possess antique firearms.
Additionally, if you were in possession of one of these illegal firearms while crossing a state line, you could be charged with a federal crime which can potentially result in more severe penalties.
Are Unregistered Guns Illegal in Florida?
In Florida, there is no gun registry and people do not need a permit to buy a gun. Since people do not need to register their firearms, having an unregistered gun is not illegal in Florida. However, according to concealed gun laws, people need a license if they want to carry a concealed gun.
Although Florida law does not require people to have a license or register to have a gun, it is important to keep in mind that there are some individuals that are not allowed to possess or own a firearm. Some people that are not allowed to own or have a gun include:
- Convicted felons
- Domestic violence abusers
- Drug users/addicts
- Mentally ill persons
- Undocumented immigrants
Therefore, it’s important to understand that performing a background check when you go to purchase a gun is mandatory even in the absence of a gun registry. Failing to obey this law can result in criminal charges. If you were charged with illegal possession of a firearm, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to prepare your case for the next legal steps.
What is the Penalty for Having an Illegal Gun in Florida?
Being in possession or owning a gun that is considered illegal under Florida law is considered a second-degree felony. Penalties can increase if a person was carrying or used an illegal firearm during the commission of another crime. Additionally, carrying a concealed weapon without permit can result in criminal charges.
If a person is found in possession of an illegal gun in Florida, he or she could be arrested and face criminal charges. According to Florida law, this type of crime is classified as a second-degree felony which can result in up to 15 years of prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
In addition to incarceration and fines, if you are found guilty of a gun crime, you might lose your ownership rights. In other words, a conviction for a gun crime can prevent you from owning a gun or obtaining a concealed carry license in the future.
Also keep in mind that, under Florida concealed weapons laws, if you do not have a valid permit, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon. The penalties for this charge range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, depending on the type of weapon involved.
Contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney
In Florida, being accused of illegal possession of a firearm is a serious charge that can result in fines, prison time, a permanent criminal record and the loss of your right to own a gun. For that reason, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer that can help you prepare a strategic and strong defense.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal law firm that represents clients facing charges for violent crimes, domestic violence, drug offenses, and gun crimes in the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas, Manatee, and Hillsborough Counties.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a gun-related crime, you should speak to our attorneys to explore your legal options. Contact us today or call directly at (727) 828-3900 to book a free no-obligation consultation.