Offenses in Florida involving guns and other weapons are often felonies and can carry severe criminal penalties. A person arrested for gun and weapons crimes in Fort Lauderdale must seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
At The Ansara Law Firm, we know Florida has strong advocacy for Second Amendment rights. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Gunshine State” for its relatively lax purchasing requirements, especially in comparison to other states. In fact, Florida has issued more concealed carry permits than any other states in the country. With 1.3 million permits, that’s more than twice as many as the No. 2 state, Texas.
But this should not be misconstrued to indicate Florida is soft on gun crimes. The truth is police and courts deal harshly with violations.
It’s important to understand what these offenses are, and the type of punishment you could be facing if you are caught on the wrong side of state gun laws. Our practice areas include:
In addition to these offenses wherein the gun is an essential element, there are numerous other offenses for which a gun will result in harsher penalties, known as “enhancements.” Regardless of the underlying charge, carrying it out with the aid of a firearm or even simply while carrying a firearm makes penalties more severe.Penalties for Gun Crimes
In fact, Florida law mandates severe minimum mandatory prison terms for those convicted of weapons-related charges.
Per F.S. 775.087, which contains Florida’s 10/20/Life Law, defendants are facing:
There are also very strict rules about who is allowed to carry a gun, proper permitting for such possession and when that gun can be discharged.
The Florida Center of Investigative Reporting revealed 75 percent of all homicides in the state are committed with firearms, and that gun-related deaths have increased nearly 40 percent in the last 15 years. Those figures, ascertained by data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, don’t reflect homicides in which the shooter claimed self-defense, as in Stand Your Ground cases.
Meanwhile, there has also been an increase statewide for concealed carry permits. In fact, following a wave of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, Florida became the first state to reach 1 million gun permits.
More guns in the state – even lawful firearms – means there will be a greater number of encounters with law enforcement. Not all of these are going to result in arrest, but let’s start with what your rights are under the law.Florida Gun Rights
Gun rights under the Florida state constitution are founded on the rights established under federal constitutional law.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows that, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Some have grappled with whether this means an individual has the right to keep and bear arms, but the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller made it clear the Second Amendment protect the individual’s right to bear arms.
In addition, the Fla. Const. art. I § 8a further protects the right to bear arms. The provision says:
Florida law requires a permit to carry handguns, but not rifles and shotguns. There is also no requirement that owners be licensed, that their handguns be registered or that buyers obtain a permit in order to purchase.
However, there are many circumstances under which mere firearms possession is illegal. Those include:
Florida is among nearly 50 percent of states that have a so-called “castle doctrine.” However, our law, known as “Stand Your Ground,” provides even more leeway to those who use firearms as a form of self-defense. There are three basic kinds of self-defense rights:
Some rights are also related to hunting, which has a storied tradition in Florida. However, even hunters need to be very careful. Criminal charges can be filed under F.S. 790.15, Discharging a Firearm in Public, if a firearm is discharged on public property, residential property or in close proximity to a home.
No matter the firearm-related charge you are facing, it’s imperative to seek proper defense.
Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in Florida gun law and gun owner rights, and we are dedicated to ensuring our clients receive the best possible representation.
If you have been charged with a gun crime or weapons offense in South Florida, contact the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780.