Gun & Weapons Defense

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:

  • 10 years in prison for mere possession of a firearm during a crime.
  • 20 years in prison for discharge of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
  • Life in prison for killing someone or inflicting injury with a gun while committing a crime.

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:

  • The right of the people to keep and bear arms in their own defense shall not be infringed, except that the manner may be regulated;
  • There is a mandatory three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of any retail handgun, and violation of this is a felony offense.

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:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. This is a felony for which one can serve five years in prison.
  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Per F.S. 790.23, this is a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison.
  • Possession of firearm by a defendant in pending domestic violence case. These are initiated by civil court orders, but violation is a criminal offense.
  • Possession of a loaded firearm by someone under 16 without parental supervision. The adult may be charged with culpable negligence.

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:

  • Duty to Retreat: Requires a person to retreat in a situation where he or she feels threatened, but may use deadly force as a last resort.
  • Castle Doctrine: No duty to retreat as limited to certain real property, such as one’s home, yard, private office or personal vehicle. Deadly force can be used against intruders in most of these situations.
  • Stand Your Ground: No duty to retreat from a situation before using deadly force. This is not limited to real property.

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.

Shooting Into an Occupied Dwelling, meanwhile, is a second-degree felony per F.S. 790.19, though it requires the action be done “wantonly or maliciously.”

Gun and Weapon Defense

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.