When the State of Florida convicts defendants of felony crimes, the defendants lose their right to possess firearms, amongst other consequences. If officers find them in possession or in control of a gun thereafter, officers can charge them with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a serious offense which merits jail time and hefty fines.
If you have been charged with possession of firearm, get legal representation ASAP. Call a Goldman Wetzel felony defense attorney at 727-828-3900 so we can get straight to work on your case and protect your best interests.
What constitutes “possession” in convicted felon gun cases?
One of the main factors the court will consider when deciding the outcome of your case is whether you were in “actual possession” or “constructive possession,” the former of which inflicts more serious penalties.
- Actual possession: You are in actual possession of a gun if it was in your hand, on your person, in a container you were holding, or within your reach.
- Constructive possession: You are in constructive possession when a gun is in a place over which you have control, like your home, or in a place where you concealed it, such as if you hid it somewhere. Constructive possession means that the gun was in a location where officers could reasonably assume that you knew the gun was present and you had access to it.
The distinction between these two types of possession is pivotal to your case; actual possession carries a minimum prison sentence, while constructive does not.
What are the penalties for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon?
Florida Statute § 790.23 provides that possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second-degree felony. The penalties include:
- Up to 15 years in prison (with a three-year minimum sentence if you were in actual possession)
- A $10,000 fine
- Up to 15 years of probation
What defenses can I use against the possession of a firearm charge?
There are two primary defenses that are effective in these types of cases. Firstly, if the state has only accused you of constructive possession, you can argue that the gun was not yours, you had no idea it was there, and/or you had no access to it.
For example, let us say the state charged you with a possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after the police found your wife’s or roommate’s gun that she kept in the house for self-defense. You can argue that your wife/roommate kept the gun under lock and key that you did not have access to the key. Or maybe officers found the gun in your car, but there were several people who had access to your car.
It would be very hard for the state to prove possession in these types of situations.
A second defense that you may use is restoration of civil rights. If you are a convicted felon but received clemency and the state officially restored your civil rights and firearm authority, the prosecutor will have to drop the charges.
How can Goldman Wetzel help me fight my charges?
Our attorneys at Goldman Wetzel have handled numerous firearm cases for convicted felons — with positive outcomes. We can fight to either have the charges dropped or reduced. In actual possession cases, we can even try to get the state to budge on the minimum sentence.
Let us help protect your freedom. Contact Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 now.