Discharge of a Firearm in Public

Florida has issued the most concealed weapons permits of any state, with 1.3 million people in 2015 granted permission to lawfully possess a firearm on or about their person in public. Many more have out-of-state permits that are recognized here as well.

State rules about when, where and how a gun can be used are strict. Among these rules is the prohibition against Discharge of a Firearm in Public. Violation could be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

At The Ansara Law Firm, Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys work on behalf of our clients to fight such charges. Penalties can range from a maximum one year in jail (for a first-degree misdemeanor) to 5 years in prison (for a third-degree felony).

Our team will work to analyze the totality of the circumstances, uncover evidence in your favor and work to have the evidence against you blocked or mitigated. No criminal defense attorney can promise a specific outcome in a case. However, we can point you to our record of success.

Through meticulous research and zealous representation, our legal team has achieved positive outcomes for clients in similar circumstances. We are committed to doing so for you.

It’s important to us that potential clients fully understand the charges against them. This helps to appreciate the seriousness of the case and also to choose the right attorney.

Defining Discharge of a Firearm in Public

The crime of Discharging Firearms in Public is spelled on in F.S. 790.15 .

A person may be found guilty of this statute if he or she:

  • Knowingly discharges a firearm in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street;
  • Knowingly discharges a firearm over the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street;
  • Knowingly discharges a firearm over any occupied premises;
  • Recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as a site of dwelling (as defined in F.S. 766.013);
  • Recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm on any structure zoned exclusively for residential use.

Violation of any of these provisions is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishably by up to one year in jail. In order to make their case, prosecutors must prove at least one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Breaking it down even further, it helps to understand what is meant by “Public Place,” “Knowingly” and “Firearm.”

  • Public Place – Any location that is designed or intended to be frequented or used by the public.
  • Knowingly – Any act that is committed with full intent and knowledge.
  • Firearm – Understood to mean any weapon – including a starter gun – that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the act of an explosive. It can also mean a firearm silencer or muffler, the receiver or frame of any such weapon, any “destructive device” or any machine gun. Per F.S. 790.001(6) , the law doesn’t count antique guns unless the weapon is used in the commission of a crime.
Penalties

The penalty for conviction of Discharging a Firearm in Public will depend on a number of factors, including whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

Generally, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, which means the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. It may also involve a year of probation. Unlike some other misdemeanors, prosecutors are not hesitant to seek adjudication of guilt, even when if it is an offender’s first time in trouble with the law. In the end, many of those convicted end up with a permanent criminal record.

That’s why we work hard to help our clients avoid conviction.

It’s especially important when the crime is being charged as a felony. Per F.S. 790.15(2) , the severity of the crime could be upped to a third-degree felony in some cases where the defendant is accused of firing the weapon from a motor vehicle. Maximum penalties for third-degree felony charges include up to five years in prison, up to five years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Defending Discharge of Firearms in Public

There are a number of effective defenses that could be raised in these circumstances. These might include assertion that:

  • The action was not intentional or knowing;
  • Defendant was defending his or her life or someone else’s life or property;
  • Defendant was performing official duties that lawfully allow the or require the discharge of a firearm;
  • The alleged act took place in a non-public place;
  • There is no proof the firearm actually discharged;
  • The discharge of the firearm was accidental;
  • Violation of constitutional rights resulting in exclusion of state evidence.

If you have been accused of Discharge of a Firearm in Public, call 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 (877) 277-3780.