Florida Gun Laws
Miami & Miami Beach Weapons Charges Attorney
Although Florida has a storied history of gun ownership and advocacy — the right to bear arms is protected under the state and federal constitution — guns laws are strictly enforced. Moreover, the recent school shootings prompted the enactment of tough new gun control measures. While it may be legal to own and carry a firearm, as a gun owner it is crucial to understand the laws as well as the legal consequences of weapons violations. After all, ignorance of the law is never a defense so making sure you know the law is the first step in ensuring you do not break it.
Valiente Law has extensive experience protecting the rights of gun owners in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and throughout the state of Florida. Our criminal defense attorneys have a working knowledge of the applicable gun laws and a proven track record of successfully trying cases in state and federal court. If you have been charged with a weapons violation, our legal team will provide you with aggressive legal representation.
Nowadays in the political climate that we’re in gun laws are changing, everyday not just on the federal level but on the state level as well. And it can be confusing, and something that is legal today might not be legal tomorrow. And so it’s important to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney like we are, who knows and we’ve done this literally hundreds of times. And we can help you use our experience, our expertise to stay on top of all of these laws to ultimately get the best possible outcome, whether it’s a dismissal of the charges, a reduction or not filing charges in the first place. You can count on us.
Who can own a gun in Florida?
The right to own a gun in Florida is derived from the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the state constitution holds that the “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.” At the same time, the state has the authority to determine who can and cannot possess a firearm. In particular, certain individuals are not permitted to possess certain firearms, including:
- Minors under the age of 21;
- A person convicted of a felony (unless their civil rights are restored);
- Anyone under a domestic violence court order;
- Those who have been committed to a treatment facility for drug abuse or convicted of certain related crimes, within the past three years;
- Habitual alcohol and drug abusers; and
- Anyone who has been committed to a mental institution during the last three years.
Because violations of Florida’s gun possession laws carry stiff penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences, significant jail time and fines, having an experienced gun law attorney in your corner is essential.
What are the new gun restrictions in Florida?
In response to the tragic recent mass shootings in Florida, a new state gun control measure has been enacted: the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The law includes the following new restrictions on gun possession:
- Minimum age — The minimum age for all gun purchases, including long guns, has been changed from 18 to 21.
- Waiting period — After a purchase, the gun owner must wait three days, or the time it takes to complete a background check, before obtaining a gun, whichever is longer.
- A Ban on Bump Stocks — Bump stocks, designed to enable semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly, mimicking an automatic weapon, are now prohibited.
The new measure also creates a “marshal program” that permits school superintendents and local sheriffs to arm and train certain school employees, including coaches, counselors, and librarians. The law also contains funding for beefed up security measures at schools, including hiring school-based police officers. It is worth noting that the provision regarding the new age requirement is being challenged in court on constitutional grounds.
Other Gun Offenses in Florida
The attorneys at Valiente Law are well-versed in numerous other weapons laws and routinely defend clients against the following gun offenses.
Carrying a Concealed Firearm
In Florida, a concealed weapon or firearm license (“concealed carry permit”) will only be issued to individuals who are:
- At least 21 years-old;
- A U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien; and
- Eligible to own a gun under both state and federal law.
The license applies to handguns,electronic weapons or devices (tasers), tear gas guns, knives, or billie clubs, and the sole reason for carrying the weapon must be for self-defense. In addition, applicants for a permit are required to pay a license fee, submit fingerprints for a background check and demonstrate firearm competency.
In short, carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is unlawful, charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison or $5,000 in fines, or both. Additionally, carrying a concealed weapon is prohibited in numerous places and situations, such as schools, bars, public parks, courthouses, public agency meetings, or any other location where state or federal law prohibits firearms.
Stand Your Ground
Florida’s current “stand your ground” law holds that a person who is in any place in which he or she has a right to have no duty to retreat if he or she feels endangered by another person. The use of deadly force is justified if a person reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or bodily harm to oneself or another. Deadly force may also be justified to prevent an imminent forcible felony from occurring.
Although stand your ground is a valid defense, you must be able to show that you had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Once you make that showing the burden shifts to the State to disprove you acted reasonably.
Discharge of a Firearm in Public
It is unlawful to knowingly or recklessly discharge a firearm in any public place, right of way on any paved public road, highway, street, outdoors on any property used primarily as a dwelling, or any structure zoned solely for residential use. Violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling
In Florida, it is illegal to wantonly shoot a firearm, throw a deadly missile, or hurl or project a stone or other hard object that would produce great bodily harm or death, at, within or in any public or private building, occupied or unoccupied, or any public or private occupied vehicle (e.g. cars, trucks, buses, trains, subways, etc.). Such conduct is termed “Throwing a Deadly Missile” and is considered a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Miami-Dade County Weapons Charges & Possession Attorney
Weapons violations are a serious matter in Florida, and a conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines, and loss of your rights as a citizen and gun owner. If you are facing a weapons charge involving a firearm, the criminal defense attorneys at Valiente Law can help. We will leverage our knowledge of the applicable gun laws and courtroom experience to protect your rights. Call our office today or complete the online contact form to set up a free consultation.