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Weapons Offenses

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Some criminal charges in Florida are based solely on the possession of weapons. "Possession" in Florida can mean "on or about your person." In other words, a weapon can be considered to be in your possession if it is in your pocket, in your hand, or even in your car, provided it's close enough for you to grab.
As you know, anything can be a weapon. A writing pen can be a weapon if used to inflict harm, but on its own - it's just a pen. So you can't get arrested for being in possession of a pen.
However, being in possession of brass knuckles, a combat knife, a retractable baton, or a gun is a crime if you do not possess a concealed weapon permit. It doesn't matter if you use the weapons or intend to use them, possession-level offenses charge a person for simply being in possession of the item. This idea is the thought behind drug possession charges. It is simply a crime to have the substance in your possession. Same with a weapon.
Here are a few common Florida weapons charges:
1) Carrying a concealed firearm: Carrying a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison. This crime is committed when a person is in possession of a firearm, either on or about their person, and the firearm is out of the ordinary sight of another. In order for the State to prove this crime, the gun must be concealed. Typically, a gun can be considered "concealed" if tucked into your waistband, hidden in your pocket, or stashed underneath a driver's seat or inside of a glove compartment. Since the crime itself involves the possession of a firearm, Florida's 10-20-Life law does not apply.
2) Felon in possession of a firearm: This charge is also known as "possession of a firearm by a convicted felon." Under both Florida and federal law, a person convicted of a felony cannot possess a firearm unless their civil rights have been restored and they can own a gun, or they have been pardoned by the President or Governor of their state. In Florida, this charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. There is a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence that applies to this charge as well. The elements of this crime are similar to carrying a concealed firearm except for two things: (a) the firearm need not be concealed; (b) the accused must have a felony conviction.
3) Carrying a concealed weapon: This charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in county jail. This charge is similar to carrying a concealed firearm except the weapon that is concealed is not a firearm. Under Florida law, a qualifying concealed weapon is, "any dirk, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person." A deadly weapon can refer to a device or instrument that can reasonably cause death or great bodily harm.
4) Improper exhibition of a weapon: Florida law defines this charge as, "any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree." As you can see, this charge includes the open carrying of a firearm.
As a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney, I deal with weapon-related charges nearly every single day. The charges discussed in this blog entry are only possession-level offenses. As you may recall from earlier posts, crimes in which weapons are used or displayed may result in very serious felonies. For example, it is a only a misdemeanor to openly carry a gun, but to point it at somebody is an aggravated assault that carries a 3-year mandatory prison sentence. Additionally, it is a second-degree felony to commit a burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, but if you are in possession of a weapon or firearm during the burglary, the charge becomes armed burglary, which is a non-bondable offense that carries a maximum term of life in prison.
If you or someone you know is facing a criminal charge involving a weapon in Broward County or Miami-Dade County, call me today so that we may fight these charges.