Florida gun laws impose relatively few restrictions on the possession of firearms, especially as compared to many other states. Nevertheless, our state does prohibit ownership and possession of certain guns.
Goldman Wetzel takes a unique approach to serving clients. Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel work together on every case, putting their background and combined wealth of knowledge to work on your behalf. This unique team approach helps ensure the protection of your legal rights, even in the face of serious criminal charges.
If you were arrested for possessing an illegal gun in Florida, the defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel can defend you against the charges: 727-838-3900.
What guns are illegal to possess under Florida law?
Florida Statute § 790.221, states, “it is unlawful for any person to own or to have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or machine gun which is, or may readily be made, operable; but this section shall not apply to antique firearms.”
This brief passage succinctly summarizes the heart of Florida’s firearms restrictions. Specifically, the following types of guns are illegal to possess in Florida.
Machine guns: Also known as fully automatic firearms, machine guns fire continuous rounds with a single trigger pull and without having to manually reload.
Short-barreled rifles/shotguns: Also known as “sawed-off” weapons. Per Florida Statute § 790.001, a short-barreled rifle has one or more barrels less than 16 inches long. A short-barreled shotgun has barrels shorter than 18 inches.
The law also regulates silencers and guns made to look like something else, such as cane guns. Florida has no laws regulating assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.
How do Florida gun laws define possession?
The definition of firearms possession is somewhat subjective, and open to interpretation by the court in many cases. Thus, depending on the circumstances, our defense may focus on whether the firearm in question was ever actually in your possession.
Florida Statute § 775.087 defines possession as, “carrying [a firearm] on the person.” According to the statute, prosecutors can prove possession “by demonstrating that the defendant had the firearm within immediate physical reach with ready access with the intent to use the firearm during the commission of the offense, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
For example, if your firearm is locked in your trunk, the state will have difficulty convicting you of firearms possession. If a firearm is lying on the car seat next to you, however, the state may deem you in possession of that gun. We will review all pertinent details regarding the location of the firearm and, depending on the details, may argue that the firearm was never in your possession.
What are the penalties for illegal gun possession in Florida?
Violation of the restrictions outlined above carries second-degree felony charges, including:
- Fines up to $10,000
- Up to 15 years in prison
But the penalties do not stop at monetary fines and incarceration. Consider what a conviction and criminal record will do to your future.
Criminal convictions become a part of your permanent record and most are not eligible for expungement. Your record will haunt you every time you apply for a new job or attempt to rent a house or apartment. Having a criminal record makes you ineligible for many types of professional licenses. Past convictions can make getting insurance difficult or impossible and they can even hinder your ability to qualify for some types of credit.
A felony conviction for illegal gun possession also prohibits you from having a gun or obtaining a concealed carry permit in the future.
Thus, we encourage those facing charges for possession of an illegal firearm to contact us right away. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get to work building your defense to prevent a conviction; and if the state has yet to file charges, we will work to prevent charges altogether.
How do federal laws differ from Florida firearms statutes?
Federal laws also discuss the required taxes associated with firearms transport across state lines. They also prohibit the interstate transfer of certain types of guns, such as machine guns.
Can anyone possess a gun?
No. Both Florida and federal statutes prohibit gun possession by certain individuals, as defined in the statutes.
Florida and federal firearms laws prohibit the following persons from knowingly possessing or receiving any firearm or ammunition:
- Minors under the age of 21.
- Drug users/addicts: Individuals in possession of drugs, tests positive for current drug use, or has a recent drug conviction.
- Mentally ill persons: Individual currently committed to a mental institution or deemed mentally ill by the court system.
- Undocumented immigrants: Including non-resident aliens but excluding green card holders.
- Domestic abusers: Individuals subject to a restraining order or who have a prior misdemeanor conviction for intimate partner or domestic violence.
- Fugitives: Individuals who have fled a state to avoid standing trial or testifying at trial.
- Dishonorably discharged persons: From any branch of the military
Further, how an individual carries a weapon may make an otherwise legal firearm illegal to possess. For example, carrying a concealed weapon is illegal in our state unless you have a valid Florida permit.
Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a third-degree felony, carrying up to five years in prison, up to five years’ probation, and fines up to $5,000.
What should you do if you are facing Florida gun charges?
Illegal firearms charges, whether state or federal, pose a serious threat to your future freedoms and civil rights. By seeking the services of the Goldman Wetzel criminal defense attorneys as quickly as possible after your arrest, you may improve your chances of a less damaging outcome.
When our team can get in front of an illegal gun possession arrest or investigation, we may be able to negotiate a lesser charge or help you avoid prosecution altogether.
Call Goldman Wetzel for help today.
Goldman Wetzel provides complimentary consultations for Florida gun arrests and charges. If you are facing charges or if the police want to question you, contact us as soon as possible. Call us today for a free case review by our St. Petersburg illegal gun possession lawyers: 727-828-3900.