Jacksonville Firearm Crime Defense Lawyer
Working to Protect the Rights of Florida Gun Owners
The United States Constitution guarantees your right to possess a gun or firearm. However, state laws and regulations govern the specific means in which you can legally purchase, possess, and operate a firearm. Failure to adhere to these rules can lead to criminal charges. The unlawful use of a firearm in connection with another crime can also result in harsher sentencing and punishments.
Penalties in a firearm conviction can include the inability to possess firearms in the future, exorbitant fines, and even years of jailtime. To avoid these consequences, you will likely need the services of qualified legal representation. Our Jacksonville firearm crime defense attorney at Weldon Law Group, PLLC has over 15 years of legal experience and can work to defend you from these types of charges.
Firearm Offenses in Florida
There are two categories of firearm crimes in the state of Florida. A firearms offense occurs when someone improperly purchases, possesses, or uses a weapon. These offenses are isolated and are not directly connected to other crimes.
Common examples of firearm offenses in Florida include:
- Unlicensed possession (either carry or concealment) of a firearm. You are required to have a registered license to own, carry, or conceal a firearm in the state of Florida. This will often involve a background check. Carrying a firearm outside of your home or business without a valid license could result in a third-degree felony charge.
- Permitting a minor child under the age of 16 to use or access a loaded firearm. The state of Florida expects you to take proactive steps to secure your firearm when not in your possession. If a minor child manages to access your loaded weapon, even if you did not authorize them to do so, you can be hit with a second-degree misdemeanor charge.
- Unlawful exhibition of a firearm. “Exhibition” refers to the way in which you hold or present your firearm. If others feel threatened by the way you “exhibit” your gun, you could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge.
- Unlawful discharging of a firearm at a school or school-associated event. Florida does not allow guns to be present at schools or school-sponsored events, like a picnic or fundraiser. The mere presence of a gun, even if you otherwise have a license to carry, can result in a third-degree felony charge.
- Possessing a gun as a convicted felon. When you are convicted of a felony, some of your rights may be restricted, including your ability to own or possess firearms. Those rights can be in many situations restored, but if you possess a firearm before you do so, you can be charged with a second-degree felony.
What Can You Expect if You Are Convicted of a Firearm Offense?
Being convicted of a firearm offense can lead to serious consequences that will vary depending on the nature and specifics of the violation. Generally, offenders will receive some combination of jailtime, probation, and obligations to pay fines.
Even infractions that might seem relatively minor – and where no one is injured – can still result in severe penalties. Carrying a firearm without a license, for example, can lead to up to a $5,000 fine, 5 years in prison, and 5 years of probation.
Depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction may also be obligate to forfeit any firearms you own. Failure to relinquish your weapons can lead to additional charges with even more aggressive sentences. You may also lose your right to obtain firearms in the future, though this restriction can sometimes be removed with the aid of effective legal representation.
Firearm Enhancements in Florida
A firearm enhancement refers to situations where a weapon is used in connection with a violent crime. These crimes are “enhanced” by the unlawful use of a firearm, meaning offenders will face harsher sentences and penalties than if they had committed a crime without a firearm.
A person does not have to actually intend to use a weapon to be charged with a firearm enhancement. The mere presence of the firearm as a means to intimidate is enough to trigger the charge. If a person brandishes an unloaded gun in order to frighten a person into compliance while committing a robbery, for example, a weapon enhancement charge would likely follow.
Convictions in cases involving weapon enhancement charges are subject to Florida’s minimum sentencing laws. If a firearm was merely present during the commission of a violent crime but not discharged, a conviction will result in a minimum 10-year prison sentence. If a firearm was discharged but no one was injured, the minimum sentence is 20 years of jailtime. Should the discharging of a firearm injure or kill someone, the offender will a face at least 25 years in prison if convicted.
Keep in mind that weapon enhancements also increase the sentencing minimums for other charges involved in the offense. If you are facing weapon enhancement charges, you will almost certainly need the legal assistance of our Jacksonville firearm crime defense lawyer.
The Role of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law
Florida is one of several states to have a variation of the “Stand Your Ground” law on the books. This self-defense law allows you to defend yourself if an intruder to your home or property makes it impossible for you to otherwise retreat. In other words, violence involving a firearm becomes permissible if it is strictly necessary.
In many cases, a homeowner will not be prosecuted by the state for defending their property, even if the intruder is injured or killed as a result of the confrontation. However, if the gun involved in the self-defense was not properly licensed, the state can technically pursue a firearm offense charges at their discretion.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney To Fight Firearm Charges
Being accused of a crime involving a firearm is a serious matter that will require a strong defense to effectively overcome. A conviction will not only lead to jailtime, fines, and probation, it will also likely result in your being unable to possess firearms in the future and other long-term ramifications.
A conviction involving a firearm offense or enhancement will also typically appear on your criminal record. This will show up in background checks and can make it more difficult to get a job, apply for housing, or pursue educational opportunities.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, we believe every person is innocent until proven guilty, no matter the charges. Our Jacksonville firearm crime defense attorney is experienced in handling these types of cases and is familiar with how they are handled in Florida courts. We can assess the specifics of your situation and identify legal solutions that will work to protect your future.
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