Weapon Offenses

Florida is a state that’s known for being tough on crime, and that’s especially true when it comes to weapons-related charges. Florida statutes clearly define who can carry a weapon, who can not, and who can carry a concealed weapon. Thousands of people every year are charged with weapons-related offenses in Florida, and that trend continues to rise.

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Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

To prove the offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the prosecution must prove that the defendant has a prior felony conviction in Florida or any other state and that the defendant knowingly owned, or had in his care, custody, possession or control a firearm, electronic weapon or device or ammunition. A conviction is required to prosecute the charge and a withhold is not legally sufficient to proceed with the case. Care and custody is defined as the immediate charge and control exercised by a person. Possession is defined as the personal charge or exercising the right of ownership, management or control over an object. The are two different types of possession, actual or constructive. Actual possession exists when an object is in a person’s hand, in a container in the hand, or so close to be within ready reach of the person. Constructive possession is defined as when a object is in a place which the person does not have control, but has knowledge of the presence of the object and also has control over the object. Mere proximity to an object is not sufficient to establish control or possession when the object is not in a place under the control of the person. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison. If a felon has actual possession of a firearm, a 3 year minimum mandatory sentence applies.

Carrying Concealed Weapons

To prove the offense of carrying a concealed weapon, the prosecutor must prove that a person knowingly carried a firearm, electronic weapon or device or weapon which was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person. The definition of firearm for the offense of carrying a concealed firearm is a weapon which is designed to or can be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. The definition of firearm does not include antique firearms unless it is used in the commission of a crime. Weapons include dirks, knives, metallic knuckles, or slingshots, but does not include pocket knives, plastic knives, or blunt bladed table knives. Carrying a concealed firearm is a third degree felony punishable of to 5 years in prison, while carrying a concealed weapon is a first degree felony punishable up to 364 days in jail. To be convicted of the charge, the firearm or weapon must be “readily accessible”. If the weapon is in a closed glove box, center console or carrying the case, the charge will not stand up in court.

Improper Exhibition of a Weapon or Firearm

To prove the offense of improper exhibition of a firearm or weapon, the prosecution must have sufficient evidence that a person had or carried a weapon or firearm; exhibited the firearm or weapon in a rude, careless, angry or threatening manner; and the offense was committed in the presence of one or more persons. The offense is first degree misdemeanor punishable up to 364 days in he county jail.

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9.4Christopher John Atcachunas
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