Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Floridians enjoy federal and state protections of their right to bear arms. However, there are limits. Regulations imposed on these rights make it a felony crime to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our experienced Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers are prepared to fight zealously to defend your rights and minimize the impact of a criminal charge on your life.
Although Florida has a reputation for being “gun-friendly” compared to many others, prosecutors don’t take these matters lightly. An arrest for carrying a concealed weapon is a serious situation, and even first-time offenders could potentially face prison.
Understanding your rights is important. Contacting a dedicated criminal defense attorney is imperative.WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON?
Under Florida law, we look to F.S. 790.1 to answer this question.
The law discusses two types of offenses:
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Carrying a concealed firearm
Regarding concealed weapons, the law says that a person who is not licensed per F.S. 790.06 and who carries a concealed weapon or an electronic weapon or device on or about his person commits a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Examples of “weapons” in this case include:
- Electronic weapons or devices
- Tear gas guns
- Billy clubs
It DOES NOT pertain to the following items possessed in concealment for the purpose of lawful self-defense:
- Self-defense chemical spray
- Non-lethal stun gun, dart-firing stun gun or other non-lethal electronic weapon or device designed solely for self-defense
Still, a person could be prosecuted for a weapon enhancement if any of these other items were used in the commission of a crime.
Similar provisions pertain to concealed firearms under this same statute. In the case of an unlawfully concealed firearm, the penalty is a third-degree felony charge, for which the maximum sentence is five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.Who Can Get a Concealed Carry Permit?
Licenses to carry handguns are obtained through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Per F.S. 790.06 , in order to qualify for a concealed carry permit, applicants must:
- Be at least 21-years-old
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
- Be eligible to possess a gun under both federal and state law
- Want to carry the gun solely for purposes of lawful self-defense
- Pay a license fee, prove firearm competency and submit a full set of fingerprints
Conditions that would prevent someone from obtaining a concealed carry permit from the state include:
- A felony conviction
- A physical or mental condition that would prohibit the safe handling of the gun
- Chronic and habitual use of alcohol
- A controlled substance conviction in the last three years
- A conviction for a domestic violence crime (even if adjudication is withheld)
- Adjudication of mental incapacity in the last five years
- Dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces
- An active warrant
- A current restraining order or injunction for domestic violence or some other type of violence
Be mindful of the fact that even with a concealed weapons or concealed firearm permit, there are still a host of situations and places in which you cannot lawfully take your gun. These include:
- Police station
- Courthouse or courtroom
- Polling place
- Meetings of public government bodies or councils
- Schools or school grounds
- Universities and colleges
- Detention facility
- In airports (except when legally checked)
- Any place of “nuisance” (i.e., location where prostitution or gambling is occurring)
- Wherever firearms are prohibited by federal law
Also note the principle of Reciprocity. Florida law recognizes valid concealed carry permits issued by other states. However, not all states recognize Florida’s permits.Proving the Crime
In order to prove a person violated the concealed carry law, prosecutors would need to show:
- Defendant knowingly carried a firearm on or about some person;
- Firearm was concealed from ordinary sight of another.
Case law has established that in order to prove “knowledge,” prosecutors need to show only that defendant was aware the firearm was in his or her possession. However, it is not necessary to prove defendant had the intention to “conceal” the firearm.
Prosecutors also need to show that it was concealed, which means that a person carrying out casual or ordinary observation, as typical in everyday life, wouldn’t see it. For example, a firearm on the floorboard of a vehicle probably would be considered “concealed,” even if it was partially visible to someone standing outside looking in.Defenses to Concealed Carry
There are a number of ways our defense lawyers can help raise sufficient reasonable doubt. Those methods may include asserting:
- Defendant wasn’t in possession of the gun
- Defendant didn’t know about the firearm
- The gun or weapon wasn’t accessible readily
- Weapon was in plain sight
- Defendant had a permit
If you have questions about your recent concealed carry arrest, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
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 (954) 761-4011.