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Gun Possession at Palm Beach International Airport – Criminal Charges

That’s according to data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which reports most cases involve loaded firearms discovered in carry-on luggage. Almost all 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 (954) 761-4011.

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