What constitutes possession of a firearm?

Possession of a firearm is not a crime in Florida, per se. Tons of Floridians own guns. In fact, there are more concealed weapon permit carriers in Florida than in any other state, with over 1.7 million Floridians currently having a valid concealed weapons permit, reports PolitiFact and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Simply possessing a firearm is not a crime. However, there are several scenarios for which being found in possession of a firearm can result in serious charges, such as if you are a convicted felon or are carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. If you were arrested for or charged with a weapon-related crime, you could be facing imprisonment and fines.

Call a Goldman Wetzel defense lawyer in St. Petersburg to discuss your case straightaway: 727-828-3900.

When is it illegal to possess a firearm in Florida?

The Second Amendment provides law-abiding citizens with the right to possess a firearm. It is not illegal to purchase, own, or carry one in Florida. That is, unless you have had your rights revoked due to a past criminal conviction, or you are in possession of a concealed weapon without a permit.

There are certain types of firearms that are unlawful, too. And, being in possession of a gun during the commission of certain crimes can upgrade a crime to an aggravated offense.

Florida Statutes Chapter 790 provides the rules, restrictions, and penalties for weapons- and firearm-related offenses. Below are some of the gun possession charges that Florida recognizes:

  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon: When you have been convicted of a felony in Florida, you lose your rights to possess a firearm. If you have not had your rights restored and are caught with a gun, you will be charged with a second-degree felony.
  • Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit: If you are found in possession of a concealed firearm and do not have a valid permit, you will be charged with a third-degree felony.
  • Possessing a short-barreled rifle or shotgun: It is unlawful to be in possession of a rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches long, a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches long, or a machine gun. Possession of such a weapon is a second-degree felony.

Note: You can also face charges if you are found in possession of a firearm in certain places, such as a college campus.

What are the penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm in Florida?

Florida takes gun laws seriously. Violations are harshly punished. For example, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon can mean up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine; it carries a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for actual possession.

A conviction of carrying a concealed firearm without a permit can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and a conviction for possession of a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun can result in up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

What defenses can I use for possession of a firearm charges?

When you hire Goldman Wetzel to defend your case, we will explore all possible defenses. Does the weapon in question meet the state’s definition of firearm or weapon? Was the gun really in your possession or did it belong to someone else? Did you really have it concealed or was it visible? Did you have a permit to conceal a weapon or a pardon that gave you rights back?

We will work to break down the prosecution’s arguments, invalidate any questionable evidence, and advocate for your rights throughout the proceedings. Our team of determined defense lawyers will work together to get your case dismissed or to get your charges/penalties reduced. Contact our office in St. Petersburg today: 727-828-3900.

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