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Gun Possession at Miami International Airport – Criminal Charges

Airport CheckpointMiami International Airport, also known as MIA, is one of the biggest airports in Florida and the international flight hub for the Southeastern U.S., with more than 1,000 flights logged daily. It’s also where dozens of firearms are confiscated and passengers arrested for bringing them illegally to a TSA checkpoint. The TSA reports nearly 90 percent of confiscated guns are loaded.

As our Miami firearms possession attorneys can explain, passengers who bring guns to airport checkpoints are subject to civil sanctions by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), a federal agency, as well as criminal arrest by local police.

F.S. 790.06(12)(a)14 prohibits anyone – even those with concealed carry licenses – to carry firearms inside the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport. Yet three Florida airports (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport) are among the top 10 for weapons seizures – with record-setting gun confiscations in recent years. The Miami Herald reported that in one recent year, there were more than 4,400 firearms seized from carryon bags at airports nationally – an average of about 12 daily. The TSA reported it happens at least once a day in Florida.

In most cases, the gun-toting traveler had no criminal intent. Sometimes, the firearm owner is in just as much shock as the TSA employee when a weapon is pulled from their bag. Nonetheless, these cases need to be taken seriously.

Defendants can face anything from a second-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, the difference usually being whether he or she has a concealed carry permit. (Keep in mind, Florida doesn’t recognize concealed carry permits from all states and not all states recognize those from Florida.) A second-degree misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail while a third-degree felony could mean up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The main goal for a Miami firearms possession lawyer will be to get those charges reduced or dropped because a felony on your record can have substantial, long-term consequences.

Whether you are a Florida resident, snowbird or visitor, securing legal representation from a local Miami defense lawyer familiar with state and federal law is an imperative.

Is it Ever Legal to Have a Gun in an Airport?

The law does not allow passengers to carry guns – concealed or in open view – into any passenger terminal of the airport. That’s the entire terminal – both before and after you reach TSA security checkpoints. If you’re outside the terminal, picking up or dropping off someone, you aren’t barred from carrying a gun (assuming you’re otherwise legally allowed to do so). State law gives those with a legal firearm to store it in their secured vehicle, which would apply to any airport road, parking or lots.

Passengers can legally travel with both ammunition and firearms, but they:

Among those regulations, passengers need to make sure any firearm, magazines, bolts, clips, firing pins and ammunition are securely locked in a hard-sided container. Weapons should be unloaded. Your gun can’t stay with you on the flight, but you should hang on to the lock box key. Instead, every weapon you travel with needs to be in your checked luggage and must be declared to the airline. 

Some airlines may have additional rules.

I Accidentally Brought My Gun to Miami International Airport… Now What?

Police officials in Miami-Dade have been quoted as saying there is a zero-tolerance policy at MIA.

“Some people just forget,” said one lieutenant. “We understand people make mistakes, but this is very serious. We can’t take any chances.”

If you accidentally bring a gun to the Miami International Airport, it’s important to talk to a lawyer right away. Those who have a gun confiscated by the TSA are likely to be arrested by police on at least one of the following charges:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon (other than a firearm) without a permit. 1st degree misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail).
  • Carrying a concealed weapon with a permit in a restricted area. 2nd degree misdemeanor (up to 60 days in jail).
  • Carrying a concealed firearm without a license. 3rd degree felony (up to 5 years in prison).
  • Carrying a firearm into an airport terminal. 2nd degree misdemeanor (up to 60 days in jail).

Anyone arrested at the Miami International Airport on gun charges should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. What happens if you accidentally bring a knife or a gun in your carry-on bag? You can be arrested even if what happened was a complete accident. That said, these offenses require state prosecutors to prove you KNEW you were in actual or constructive possession. It is often the case that defendants did not know, which can be the basis of a strong defense.

On top of this, you’ll face a $13,000 fine from TSA.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer will first and foremost work to have the charges dropped, if possible. Depending on the circumstances, we may work to negotiate a favorable plea deal involving lesser charges, lower fines and less (if any) jail time. It’s less common for criminal cases to go to trial, but we will make sure we’re preparing from day one to do so if necessary. And we’ll help you argue to have the fine dropped or reduced as well.

We offer aggressive defense in these cases, and we fight to ensure this does not become a dark cloud that follows you for years to come. Our Miami criminal defense lawyers know well Florida gun law and Florida gun owner rights and we are committed to making sure our clients reap the benefit of the best possible legal representation.

If you have been charged with a gun crime or weapons offense in South Florida,  contact  the Miami Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780.

Gun Possession at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport – Criminal Charges

International AirportThe Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) leads Florida for having the most firearm confiscations and related arrests. In a recent year when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported a record number of guns seized nationally, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 7 in the country.

As The Sun Sentinel reported, almost 100 firearms were confiscated by TSA agents at FLL in a single recent year – more than any other airport in Florida. Orlando and Tampa weren’t far behind. More than 4,400 firearms were confiscated at airports nationwide that same year.

Both state and federal laws restrict possession of ammunition, weapons and firearms in airports. Travelers who wish to hardware along must adhere to very stringent rules. Violate these laws, and at minimum, you’re looking at a second-degree misdemeanor charge (punishable by up to 60 days in jail) – assuming you have a concealed carry license from Florida or another state with reciprocity. If you don’t have a concealed carry permit and you’re caught in an airport with a firearm in your possession, you could be charged with a third-degree felony, which can result in a maximum five-year prison sentence.

To top it all off, TSA can impose its own fine for firearm possession violations – up to $13,000.

Our Fort Lauderdale firearm defense attorneys encourage anyone facing these charges to seek legal advice immediately. If you can, don’t try to talk your way out of it at the airport. Instead, let us do the talking. There may be several effective defense approaches, but it’s imperative that these matters be handled by a defense lawyer with extensive experience in firearm possession cases.

FLL Takes Gun Possession Seriously

One of the reasons Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has such a high rate of gun possession arrests is because officials there take the offense very seriously – especially since 2017. That year, a gunman opened fire in the baggage claim area of the airport, killing five and wounding six. He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison. It should be noted that he’d followed the legal procedure for traveling with a firearm.

Soon after, Broward County passed airport gun regulations prohibiting firearms at any airport property – including parking lots, roads and other parts of the airport. It was even applicable to taxi drivers with guns in their vehicles – even if they had the proper permitting. In practice, the county hadn’t been enforcing the tougher regulations, and was later successfully sued for the rule by a gun rights advocacy group.

Still, that doesn’t mean anything goes at FLL. F.S. 790.06(12)(a)14 still bans anyone from carrying a firearm – concealed or otherwise – into an airport terminal. If you’re outside the terminal or if your gun is stowed in a secure vehicle and you have a concealed carry permit, you should have no issue. TSA firearms rules do allow passengers to travel with a firearm, provided you are properly permitted, the gun is not loaded, it’s properly secured in a locked, hard-sided container inside your checked luggage and you have declared it to the airline.

Usually, people run afoul of these rules for two main reasons:

  • They didn’t know or fully understand the specific legal requirements that must be met for traveling with a firearm lawfully.
  • They didn’t realize they even had a gun in their baggage. (Many are rushed while traveling, a spouse may have packed it, it was left in one’s luggage after a previous trip, etc.)

Very, very few arrested on these charges intended to commit a crime, but that may not matter. What prosecutors need to show is that you knew you had a firearm in your actual or constructive possession in a place where weapons are restricted.

Penalties for Possession of Gun in Fort Lauderdale Airport

The penalties you face for unlawful possession of a firearm or other weapon in an airport will hinge significantly on whether you had a concealed carry license. If you aren’t from Florida, you’ll want to figure out if the carry license you have from your state is recognized by Florida (not all are, as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notes).

There are generally one of four charges you may face for unlawful possession of a gun at an airport. The most serious of these is carrying a concealed firearm without a license. In Florida, this is a felony for which you face up to five years in prison, five years of probation and/or a $5,000 fine. Then there is carrying a concealed weapon (other than a firearm) into an airport terminal. This is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

 Then there is carrying a concealed weapon with a license, but in a restricted area of the airport. This is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

If you are arrested at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on gun possession charges, our dedicated defense lawyers will fight for you, arguing for dismissal of the charges and fighting tirelessly to minimize the impact this is going to have on your life. 

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.

Gun Possession at Palm Beach International Airport – Criminal Charges

Security Check AirportMore than a dozen passengers are arrested for firearm possession at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) every year. That’s according to data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which reports most cases involve loaded firearms discovered in carryon luggage. Almost who are caught are arrested, criminally charged and civilly fined.

The Palm Beach Post reported nearly 530 guns were discovered in 19 Florida airports in a single recent year. That’s more than double the number seized a decade ago.

Important to note it is not actually illegal to travel with a firearm. However, if you don’t abide by the strict state and federal rules in place for doing so, you will probably find yourself in deep trouble.

If you’re caught with a gun at PBI, arrest is technically at the discretion of local law enforcement – but you are almost certainly going to be arrested or given notice to appear in court. Although PBI doesn’t have an express no-tolerance policy for unlawfully carrying a firearm (in contrast to Miami International Airport), public records over the last few years indicate that the seizure of 85 guns over three years at PBI led to criminal charges for 75 people.

The question is whether you will face misdemeanor or felony charges, the severity of civil sanctions you will face from the TSA – and how you plan to defend yourself.

Penalties for Gun Violation at Palm Beach International Airport

Of the 13 people arrested for gun violations at PBI in a single recent year, three were charged with third-degree felonies – punishable by up to five years in prison – because they didn’t have a concealed weapons license. Licensing is a key factor in the severity of the charges you will face.

Although the rest of the defendants in PBI airport gun possession cases did have the necessary permitting for carrying a concealed weapon, that didn’t protect them from legal trouble.

Potential charges for airport weapons possession in Florida include:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon with a permit in a restricted area. This is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Carrying a concealed weapon (other than a gun) without a permit. This is a 1st degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Carrying a concealed firearm without a license. This is the 3rd degree felony for which you can face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Those arrested for less serious offenses may have their guns confiscated but are often still allowed to travel after accepting their notice to appear in court (sometimes called a “written arrest”). Others may be jailed in lieu of bail.

Defendants may also be hit with civil penalties from TSA, which can include up to $13,000 in fines.

Even if the whole incident was an honest mistake or misunderstanding, you cannot treat it as a minor issue. Reducing your chances of conviction and serious penalties requires the assistance of an experienced Palm Beach firearms defense attorney.

Hire a Defense Attorney for an Airport Gun Violation

If you are arrested or cited for having a gun at Palm Beach International Airport, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent you for both the criminal and civil aspects.

Our legal team will fight to have the charges dismissed or reduced.

As for the civil aspect of your case (entirely separate from criminal charges), an attorney can help you request an informal conference or a formal hearing with the TSA, at which we can represent you. Civil penalty amounts are based on the TSA’s Sanction Guide, which lists a number of both aggravating and mitigating circumstances. These include:

  • The violation’s significance or degree of security risk.
  • The nature of the violation (was it inadvertent, deliberate or the result of gross negligence).
  • Past violations.
  • The experience of the violator.
  • The attitude of the violator, including any corrective action he/she took.
  • The economic impact a fine would have on the person.
  • Whether the individual already paid criminal sanctions for the incident.
  • Disciplinary action by the person’s employer.
  • Whether the person tried to “artfully conceal” the violation.
  • Intentional falsification or fraud.

Our dedicated Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys will work to produce evidence of mitigating factors and challenge aggravating factors. We are committed to advocating for the best possible outcome in your firearms possession case.

If you have been charged with a gun crime or weapons offense in South Florida, contact the Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780.

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