Florida Gun Crime Lawyer and Weapon Charges: Understanding the Penalties and Your Rights

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution provides a right to own guns, but a number of state and federal laws govern firearm use and possession. You may face criminal charges if you break these laws, which can have serious consequences including steep fines, arrest, or conviction of gun crime charges.

In the State of Florida, gun laws are particularly stringent, and there are numerous weapons crimes that a person can commit. Weapons charges are punishable by a number of Florida statute, and a person can receive a misdemeanor or felony charge for being in possession of a gun without a license, carrying a concealed weapon, or using a firearm to commit certain crimes.

A Florida gun charge or weapon charge should not be taken lightly. If you’ve been charged with a weapons offense in Florida, it’s important to understand the potential penalties and your legal rights. Experienced lawyers for gun charges are necessary for the proper guidance and support to fight the charges and protect your rights.

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell want to uphold your Constitutional rights to bear arms. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Florida statutes on weapons and firearms, including concealed firearm laws, self-defense laws, and weapons charges.

In This Guide to Firearms Laws and Criminal Charges:

Understanding Florida Gun Laws

Florida Gun Crime Lawyer

Florida gun laws place strict restrictions on the possession, use, and sale of firearms in the state. In general, it is unlawful to carry a concealed firearm without a permit and you must be at least 21 years old to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer.

It is also illegal to possess or use firearms if you have been convicted of certain felonies or domestic violence offenses, are a fugitive from justice, or have been adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

How Does Florida State Law Define Firearms?

Before we dive into gun laws and weapons charges in Florida, it’s important to understand what is considered a firearm and how to lawfully possess one.

Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 790 §790.001, Subsection 1 lists the types of weapons that are considered firearms. A “firearm” is defined as:

“any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun. The term “firearm” does not include an antique firearm unless the antique firearm is used in the commission of a crime.”

Put more simply, a gun is any weapon that can expel a projectile using an explosive. This includes handguns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and antique firearms such as black powder weapons. Each of these types of guns has their own specific definition under Subsection 1 of the statute.

Types of Firearm and Weapon Offenses under Florida Laws

Florida Gun Crime Lawyer

Florida law outlines the different offenses a person can be charged with for using or possessing a firearm or weapon. All of these offenses have penalties that range from a minor misdemeanor to felony charges.

In general, firearms-related crimes are generally divided into two main categories: where and when you possess a firearm, and how you use it.

Crime Related to Gun Possession

This type of gun charge is related to when, where, and how you possess firearms, regardless of how you use them. Examples of charges in this category include:

  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon,
  • Carrying a concealed gun or weapon without a permit,
  • Possession of a firearm on school grounds.

Illegal Possession of a Firearm

One of the most common offenses involving firearms is unlawful possession. Ten categories of people are prohibited from buying and/or owning guns under Title 18, United States Code, § 922(g). They include anyone who is:

  1. Convicted of a felony (or equivalent);
  2. Fugitive from justice;
  3. Unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance;
  4. Adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment;
  5. Illegal alien;
  6. Dishonorable discharge from the US Armed Forces;
  7. Renounced United States citizenship;
  8. Active protection order (restraining order, injunction for protection, etc.);
  9. Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
  10. Under indictment or information for a felony.

Additionally, Florida has its own restrictions on gun ownership. Any person can be prohibited from using or possessing a gun if they:

  • Have been convicted of a felony offense in the State of Florida;
  • Are under the age of 18, unless the gun is not loaded and is at home under a legal guardian’s supervision;
  • Are the subject to an active domestic violence injunction or charge;
  • Have been found in certain proceedings to be a drug addict, vagrant, or mentally incompetent;
  • Have been adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile of any offense that would have been a felony if charged as an adult.

Crime Related to Gun Usage

This category includes crimes related to specific activities involving firearms. Using a firearm in the commission of a crime or while under the influence can lead to elevated charges,, additional charges and enhanced penalties.

Examples of charges in this category include:

  • Discharging a firearm in public,
  • Aggravated battery or assault with a firearm;
  • Using a firearm while under the influence.

Florida Penalties for Weapons and Firearm Offenses

Florida Gun Crime Lawyer

The consequences of weapons-related offenses in the state of Florida can be severe, with steep fines and potential incarceration for nearly all penalties. Charges for firearm-related offenses can range from first-degree misdemeanors to felonies, and the nature of the crime and type of charge will determine the legal consequences of a conviction.

What is the Difference Between a Felony and Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors and felonies are two categories of Florida gun crimes charges. Misdemeanors are less serious, have lower fines, and carry up to one year jail sentence. A felony, on the other hand, carries a minimum sentence of at least one year and has more severe consequences. Felony sentences are served in prison and convicted felons may face restrictions from buying a gun or voting, while misdemeanors do not have lifelong restrictions.

The grades for felony charges include:

  • First Degree Felony
    • Up to 30 years in prison; and
    • Possible fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second Degree Felony
    • Up to 15 years in prison; and
    • Possible fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third Degree Felony
    • Up to 15 years in prison; and
    • Possible fine of up to $10,000.

The grades for misdemeanor charges include:

  • First Degree Misdemeanor
    • Up to 12 months in jail; and
    • Possible fine of up to $1,000.
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor
    • Up to 60 days in jail; and
    • Possible fine of up to $500.

10/20/Life Provisions

Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, certain felony convictions involving firearms are subject to mandatory minimum sentences. Under this law, judges must impose a sentence of at least ten years for possessing a loaded firearm, and enhanced penalties continue based on circumstance. The 10-20-Life sentence is an additional and consecutive sentence to the underlying felony conviction.

The 10/20/Life law provides the following minimum sentences for gun use during the commission of certain offenses:

  • Ten (10) years for the actual possession of a firearm;
  • Twenty (20) years for the unlawful discharge of a deadly weapon; and
  • Life in prison for wounding or injuring any person with a firearm.

The 10/20/Life Provision applies to the following offenses:

  • Murder
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • Carjacking;
  • Aggravated child abuse;
  • Aggravated abuse of the elderly or disabled;
  • Unlawful discharge of a destructive device or bomb;
  • Trafficking in a controlled substance;
  • Home-invasion robbery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Arson;
  • Burglary;
  • Robbery;
  • Burglary of Conveyance;
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Felon;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Escape; or
  • Sexual battery.

Facing Gun Charges in South Florida? Consult an Experienced Gun Crime Lawyer Today

Florida Gun Crime Lawyer

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges for a weapon offense in St. Lucie County or elsewhere in South Florida, you need an experienced gun crime lawyer right away. A good criminal defense attorney will be your partner in the legal process and create a sturdy defense to your Florida weapons charge.

Meltzer & Bell is an established criminal defense law firm experienced at handling all types of gun charges and weapon cases throughout the Treasure Coast area. We’ve been practicing law for over 20 years in Florida’s criminal courts and are experienced in gun charges, federal law, and Second Amendment rights.

As criminal defense attorneys, we represent clients throughout the 19th Judicial Circuit including St. Lucie County and Martin County locations of Rio, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter Island. Our defense lawyers value open honest communication and consult with you throughout the legal process.

Contact the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell today at (772) 291-2534 or submit an online contact form to discuss your gun rights. We’re here to help with a free case evaluation for your gun crime questions or firearms charges.

Want To Learn More About Florida Statutes and Potential Charges?

Florida Gun Crime Lawyer

Our blog offers current and updated articles regarding State gun and weapons crime and law. You can also check out the following websites for additional State-specific gun information:

  • Division of Licensing – Visit the official website for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and their Division of Licensing. The Division of Licensing administers Florida’s concealed weapon licensing program and oversees Florida’s firearms private investigative, private security, and recovery service industries.
  • Florida’s Firearm & Weapon Laws – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website for state legislation, for more information on Florida statutes, including Chapter 790, Weapons and Firearms. Learn more regarding charge elements, admissible defenses in court, and other violent crime offenses.