Firearm & Weapons Lawyer: Sarasota & Manatee County, FL

Florida honors people’s constitutional rights to bear arms to protect themselves, their families and their property. But even though most people are allowed to possess a gun, there are some regulations by which you must abide. Ignoring these gun laws in Sarasota County not only can prevent you from owning a gun, but it can also result in severe criminal charges.  

Provided you are eligible, you are legally allowed to have a gun for self-defense. However, Florida still has some weapon restrictions that are meant to protect the population from gun violence. If you were accused of violating a gun law, you might need the help of one of our criminal defense attorneys in Sarasota or Manatee County. Speak to the defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel to know more about your legal options. 

What Are the Gun Laws in Florida?

Florida Statute § 790 covers the different rules that you need to follow in order to legally possess, carry and own a gun as well as the sentences for violating these restrictions. 

Some of the issues that Bradenton gun laws handle include, but are not limited to: 

  • Legally own a weapon: to legally possess a gun in Florida, there are some requirements that you need to meet. Felons, mentally ill people, minors, fugitives and domestic violence abusers, to name but a few, cannot own a gun. 
  • Concealed carry gun laws: most people in Florida are allowed to have a gun. However, concealed carry gun laws establish that, unless you are authorized to do so, you cannot carry a weapon in a way that is hidden from another person’s sight. 
  • Open carry laws: Florida gun laws establish that you can openly carry a nonlethal gun (such as electric devices or chemical spray) for self-defense purposes. But, these laws also establish that, if you do not have a concealed weapon permit, you cannot carry a firearm in public places.      
  • Florida laws on discharging firearms: in Florida, it is legal to discharge a firearm as long as you are legally defending yourself, others or your property or you are an officer on duty. Aside from these exceptions, discharging a firearm in a public place, residential areas or from a vehicle is illegal and can result in criminal charges.  
  • Possession of illegal guns in Florida: some of the Florida and Federal gun legislations cover the type of guns that people are not allowed to possess. According to them, it is illegal to own machine guns and short-barreled rifles or short-barreled shotguns. 

Florida gun laws are extensive. If you want to understand your charges, you should speak to a Sarasota criminal defense attorney

Penalties for a Gun Charge in Sarasota & Manatee County

In Florida, a weapon charge can result in imprisonment, fines and the loss of your right to own and possess a gun. Depending on the severity of the offense, gun crimes range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony charge. This could result in a sentence of 60 days up to 30 years imprisonment. 

How much jail time do you get for a gun in Florida?

In Florida, the penalties for a weapon crime depend on the type of offense. As established before, these charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies. Second-degree misdemeanors is a less severe form of gun charge which results in up to 60 days of jail and a maximum fine of $500. 


Examples of 2nd-degree misdemeanor gun crime convictions include openly carrying a gun without a permit as well as leaving a gun within easy reach of a minor. On the other hand, if your gun offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, you could face up to 1 year of jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Gun offenses that are classified as first-degree misdemeanors include:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Violating the gun prohibitions from your injunction of protection
  • Discharging a firearm on a residential area
  • Minor in possession of a firearm 


Carrying a concealed firearm, encouraging a person to discharge a gun from a vehicle, manufacturing or selling certain ammunition, using a nonlethal weapon against a law enforcement officer, and carrying or using a concealed weapon during the commission of a felony are some examples of third-degree felony gun charges. The penalties for these crimes include up to 5 years of prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. 

Some of the gun crimes that are considered second-degree felonies include:

  • Carrying or using a firearm during the commision of a crime
  • Discharging a firearm from a vehicle 
  • Discharging a firearm in school facilities
  • Ownership or possession an illegal gun

Finally, you could face a first-degree felony charge if you: 

  • Are a repeat gun offender or career offender, 
  • Are a felon with possession of a firearm, 
  • Discharge a machine gun in public or prohibited areas 
  • Possess illegal or prohibited ammunition 

Violating a gun law in or near Bradenton or Sarasota could face severe consequences, to learn more about potential penalties, you should talk to a lawyer with experience handling weapons and firearms charges. 

Gun Laws: Federal Charges

Gun laws exist both at the state and federal levels. This means that, in addition to complying with the Florida legislation, you also need to abide by the weapon laws established by the Federal Government. Failing to follow these regulations can result in a federal crime.

Federal gun charges include but are not limited to:

  • Carrying a gun on federal property
  • Possessing guns and accessories prohibited by federal law
  • Possessing or carrying a gun by a prohibited person   
  • Carrying guns across state lines
  • Selling, manufacturing, or delivering guns by a non-authorized person
  • Selling guns to a minor

As is the case with Florida law, the sentences associated with a federal weapon or gun charge depend on the type of offense and the accused’s past criminal history, among other factors. Below are some penalties associated with these crimes. 

Keep in mind that these are not definitive sentences since a federal judge has more discretion and will dictate the penalty based on the circumstances of each case:

Gun offenseFederal chargeImprisonment
Selling to minorsClass D felonyUp to 10 years
Possession of a gun by a prohibited personClass D felonyUp to 10 years
Selling ammunition or a gun to an unlawful userClass D felonyUp to 10 years
Use of a deadly weapon in a drug crimeClass D felonyMinimum 5 years
Carrying a weapon in federal courtClass E felonyUp to 2 years
Carrying a weapon on federal propertyClass A misdemeanorUp to 1 year

The penalties for a federal charge depend on numerous factors. If you are facing a federal accusation, you should enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call the Manatee and Sarasota defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel to schedule a free consultation.   

Can a Gun Charge Be Dropped in Florida?

If you were accused of violating a firearm law in or near Sarasota or Bradenton, you could face severe criminal charges. Consider seeking the help of a weapon charges attorney that can study your accusations and find the best legal options for your specific case. 

Although it depends on the circumstances of each case, a lawyer for gun charges might be able to get your charges dropped. Some of the strategies that the defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel might be able to use include:

  • Insufficient evidence: the prosecution needs to provide enough evidence that proves, without reasonable doubt, that the accused committed a gun crime. If your gun lawyer finds that the evidence held against you is not strong enough, they might be able to get your charges dropped. 
  • Violation of your rights: a skilled criminal defense attorney might be able to prove that law enforcement violated your rights during the arrest or criminal justice procedures. Examples of this might include illegal seizures and searches, entrapment or evidence illegally obtained. 
  • No access to the weapon: if you are not allowed to have a gun and you were accused of possession, your defense attorney might be able to prove that you are not the owner of the weapon and that you did not have access to it. 

Contact a Sarasota Lawyer for Gun Charges

Even though you are allowed to possess a gun in Florida, if you fail to obey certain regulations, you might face criminal charges. Facing a gun crime can result in severe penalties, a criminal record, and the loss of your right to possess a weapon. Given the sensitive nature of these accusations, you might want to speak to a criminal defense attorney. 

Goldman Wetzel is a criminal law firm that represents clients facing charges for gun-related crimes, domestic violence, and violent offenses in the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota and Manatee County. 

If you or a loved one were accused of breaking a gun law in Sarasota or Bradenton, you might want to talk to a criminal defense lawyer. Contact us today or call our attorneys at (941) 405-5193 to book a free consultation.