There are two main ways an individual can be charged with a gun crime in Florida:
- Improperly purchasing, possessing, or using a gun (weapons offenses)
- Using a gun during the commission of another offense (weapon enhancements)
In this article, we’ll cover the different firearm crimes you can be charged with in Florida, what the punishments for those crimes may be, the 10-20-Life law, and what you can do if you’re charged with a gun crime.
Improperly Purchasing, Possessing, or Using a Gun
When it comes to gun crimes in Florida, there are five offenses that are the most common.
Carrying a Concealed Firearm Without a License
In order to own and carry a gun, you must go through the proper channels. That means that you must purchase your gun legally and go through a background check and secure a license if you want to carry the weapon.
Otherwise, if you are stopped by police for any reason and found to be illegally carrying a concealed weapon, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, five years of probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
There are situations where you can carry your gun without a permit, including in your own home, in your business, and while hiking or camping. Otherwise, if you want to carry, you need to go through the proper channels and get a permit.
Possessing a Gun as a Convicted Felon
If you have previously been convicted of a crime and your rights have not been restored, it is illegal to own or possess a firearm. Depending on the situation, you may be charged with a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Allowing Access of a Loaded Firearm to a Minor
If you own a gun, it’s imperative that you store it properly. Otherwise, you may find that others can easily access your gun—and if they do, you may be charged with a crime. Even if you do not permit minors (under 16) in your home to use your firearm, by failing to properly secure your weapon, a judge may find that you are technically allowing access to it.
This offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500.
Improper Exhibition of a Firearm
Showing off a gun in a way that is considered threatening or rude can lead to charges of improper exhibition. This is a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year of jail time, one year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000.
Possessing or Discharging a Gun at a School or School Event
Most people are in agreement that a school is no place for a gun. Taking a gun to a school or a school-sponsored event or discharging one there can lead to third-degree felony charges.
A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, five years of probation and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
These charges can be combined with other charges depending on the situation. For example, if someone is injured during one of these offenses, there will be more serious charges in addition to the original offense. To better understand any charges against you, speak to a Tampa defense attorney with experience working with individuals charged with gun crimes.
The second class of firearm charges are firearm enhancements. This is when a firearm is used during the commission of a crime and a more severe charge is applied.
Even if there is no intent to use the gun and its sole purpose to engender fear during the commission of the crime, its presence will automatically increase the severity of the charges related to the original crime.
Two individuals can commit similar crimes—a robbery, let’s say. If one uses a gun during the act, and the other doesn’t, one may be charged with a second-degree felony, while the gun user would be charged with a first-degree felony, in addition to any other weapons charges like carrying without a license.
The firearm enhancements aim to reduce gun violence and to increase penalties for gun offenders.
10-20-Life Law in Florida
The 10-20-Life Law in Florida is a simple way to understand how firearm enhancements work in the state.
If a firearm is carried during the commission of a violent offense, then there will be a ten-year minimum sentence.
If a firearm is discharged during the commission of a violent offense, a 20-year minimum sentence may be imposed.
If a firearm is discharged during the commission of a violent offense and someone is injured or killed, then a 25-year minimum sentence may be imposed.
In addition, the law increases the mandatory minimum sentences for other offenses. To learn more, be sure to ask your Tampa defense attorney.
Stand Your Ground Law
The Stand Your Ground law allows homeowners and property owners to protect themselves and their property and makes it so they have no obligation to retreat. While an individual may not be charged with a crime for protecting their property, it is possible that if the gun used to protect said property is not properly permitted, they may face gun charges. This would be up to the state prosecutor.
Facing Gun Crimes Charges? Call Mike G Law
Gun crimes are taken more seriously in Florida after the Parkland shooting. If you’re charged with a gun crime, you may find that the charges are more serious than you initially thought they would be. But there is still hope if you act quickly.
To defend against gun crimes, you need to secure legal representation as soon as possible. Call Mike G Law to schedule a consultation and learn how I can help you fight the charges against you and protect your rights and your future.