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Weapons Offenses

Experienced Criminal Defense in St. Petersburg

Like many crimes in the state of Florida, weapons offenses range in degree and severity depending on a number of factors including, primarily the type of weapon involved. Weapons offenses may be prosecuted as misdemeanors, with little likelihood of long term implications on an accused person, to very serious felony offenses that can utterly destroy a person's life. This section lists some of the more common weapons related offenses our clients face, including the elements of the charge (what the state is required to prove), the maximum penalties applicable to each offense, and some commentary on sentencing guideline ranges and minimum mandatory sentences. For additional details on sentencing topics, see the Sentencing section of our website. If you are charged with a weapons offense in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, New Port Richey, Dade City, or Bradenton, you should consult with an a criminal defense attorney that is experienced in handling these types of matters and in this area.

Carrying A Concealed Weapon

This is one of the least severe weapons offenses in Florida. Any person who carries a concealed weapon or electric on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or twelve months of probation.

A "weapon" is defined as "any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slingshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocket knife, plastic knife or bunt-bladed table knife" (Fla. Stat. § 790.001(13)).

An "electric weapon or device" is defined as "any device which, through the application or use of electrical current, is designed, redesigned, used, or intended to be used for offensive or defensive purposes, the destruction of life, or the infliction of injury" (Fla. Stat. § 790.001(14)).

Carrying a Concealed Firearm

If a person carries a concealed firearm on his or her person, he or she may be prosecuted for a felony of the third degree. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison.

A "concealed firearm" is defined as "any firearm which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person" (Fla. Stat. § 790.001(2)).

Carrying a concealed firearm is a level five offense on Florida's sentencing guidelines which means it will not, in an of itself, score a mandatory prison sentence. As indicated elsewhere in this website, a non-state prison guideline score does not mean that the person cannot be sentenced to prison of the underlying circumstances warrant it. It is however, rare that this would occur. It should also be noted that the person may score prison if there are additional charged offenses before the court for sentencing, or the person's prior record is extensive enough to push the total guideline points above 44. This commentary is meant to provide some very generalized information; questions specific to your case, and especially questions that relate to potential penalties, should always be directed to an experienced St. Petersburg area criminal defense attorney.

It should be noted that the statute pertaining to carrying concealed weapons and firearms specifically excludes self-defense chemical spray, a non-lethal stun gun, or other non-lethal electric weapon, that is designed solely for defensive purposes. A person may carry these items in a concealed manner for the purposes of self-defense.

Prohibited Use of Self-defense Weapons Against law Enforcement Officers

Any person who uses a self defense chemical spray or stun gun against a police officer, while the officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, commits a felony of the third degree.

Possessing or Discharging Weapons or Firearms on School Property

Any person who exhibits a weapon, in the presence of one or more persons, in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, while on school property, commits a felony of the third degree. A person may also be prosecuted under this section if the weapon is exhibited, in a prohibited manner, at a school sponsored event, on a school bus, or within 1000 feet of a public elementary, middle, or secondary school during school hours.

For purposes of the applicable statute, "weapon" includes a sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon, destructive device, box cutter, razor blade or common pocket knife.

If the person discharges the weapon or firearm while in violation of this section, he or she may be prosecuted for a felony of the second degree. A second degree felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison.

Discharging a Firearm in Public

Any person who knowingly discharges a firearm in public, or who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or twelve months of probation. The statute does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property or performing his or her official duties that require the discharge of a firearm.

The occupant of a vehicle who knowingly discharges a firearm from within the vehicle, and within 1,000 feet of any person commits a felony of the second degree. A second degree felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison. Also, depending on the circumstances, the provisions of Florida's 10-20-Life statute may be invoked.

The driver or owner of a vehicle, who knowingly directs any other person to discharge a firearm from the vehicle, commits a felony of the third degree. The statute applies to the owner of the vehicle, even if he or she is not occupying the vehicle at the time the offense is committed. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison.

Possession of a Short Barreled Shotgun

It is unlawful for a person to own or possess a short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or machine gun which is, or may be made, operable. The statute does, however, specifically exclude owning or possessing an antique firearm. A violation of this section is a felony of the second degree.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition

It is unlawful for any person to own or possess any firearm, ammunition, electric weapon, or to carry a concealed weapon (including a tear gas gun or chemical weapon) if that person has been convicted of a felony in either Florida or another state.

The statute also applies to persons:

  • Found to have committed a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult and the person is less than twenty for years of age (in either Florida or another state); or
  • Convicted of a felony offense against the United States;

The statute does not apply, however, to a person who has had his or her civil rights restored.

A violation of this section constitutes a felony of the second degree. It should also be noted that if the possession was actual (on the accused's person), a three year minimum mandatory sentence will apply under Florida's 10-20-Life statute. If the person has a prior conviction for one of the offenses enumerated in the 10-20-Life statute, and actually possessed a firearm during the commission of that prior offense, he or she is subject to a 10 year minimum mandatory sentence upon conviction under this section (felon in possession of a firearm).

Attorney Donald J. Kilfin has prosecuted and defended countless weapons and firearms offenses over the past fourteen years. He is very familiar with the applicable laws, enhancements, and potential defenses that may be used to reduce, or eliminate, the impact a charge of this nature can have on a person.

If you have been arrested or charged with a weapons or firearms offense in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, New Port Richey, Dade City, or Bradenton, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. 

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