Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Tampa Carrying a Concealed Firearm Attorney
In Florida it is against the law for a person to carry a concealed firearm unless that person has a Concealed Weapons License.
In 1867, the Florida Supreme Court stated that the law against carrying concealed weapons was designed to prevent a person with a weapon from “taking some undue advantage over an unsuspecting adversary,” who is not aware that the person is carrying a weapon.
In Florida, to convict an accused of Carrying a Concealed Firearm, the prosecutor must prove:
- The accused knowingly carried on or about his person a firearm.
- The firearm was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.
Maximum Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Florida
In Florida carrying a Concealed Firearm is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:
Five years of imprisonment
A $5,000.00 fine
5 years of probation
Possible Defenses to the charge of Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Florida
Lack of Knowledge
There are instances where people carry concealed firearms unknowingly.
For example, sometimes an accused brings carry-on luggage through an airport security line without realizing that the luggage contains a firearm. This might happen because the person forgot about the firearm being in the luggage, or because, unbeknownst to the person, a family member or roommate put the firearm in the luggage and then neglected to remove it. Regardless, during the passenger screening process, the airport police will arrest the person and charge them with Carrying a Concealed Firearm. However, if the accused person was not aware that he or she was carrying the firearm, they are not guilty of the charge.
Another example of lack of knowledge in a concealed firearm case arises when people drive vehicles that don’t belong to them. Imagine that the owner of a vehicle keeps a loaded firearm under the front seat. One day, the owner lends the vehicle to a friend for the day without removing the firearm. Although the friend may drive around with a concealed firearm in the vehicle, he is not guilty of the crime, as he doesn’t even know the firearm is present.
The Accused Has a Valid Concealed Weapon License
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues licenses to carry concealed firearms to qualified persons. These licenses are valid for 7 years.
The licensed person must carry the license, together with valid identification, whenever they carry a concealed firearm.
Being a Concealed Weapon License Holder is a defense to the charge of Carrying a Concealed Firearm.
The Firearm Was Transported Securely Encased In A Private Conveyance
Florida Law permits the carrying of a concealed firearm for self-defense within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.
Conveyances include cars, motorcycles, and boats.
“Securely encased” means in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
For example, if a person without a concealed weapon license were to place a firearm into a zippered gun case and then place that closed zippered gun case under the front seat of his car, that person would not be guilty of carrying a concealed firearm, as the Florida Private Conveyance Exception would apply.
However, the Florida Private Conveyance Exception does not apply if a driver carries a zippered gun case containing a firearm on his person. So, if a motorcycle driver without a concealed weapon license rode his motorcycle carrying a zippered gun case containing a firearm around his waist, he would be guilty of carrying a concealed firearm. But, if that same motorcycle driver kept the closed zippered gun case inside a compartment in the motorcycle, the Private Conveyance Exception would apply and the person would not be guilty of carrying a concealed firearm.
Law Enforcement Discovered the Concealed Firearm During An Illegal Search
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . .”
Therefore, police searches of citizens must be “reasonable.”
While courts have held that a police officer may search a person for weapons where the officer has reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual, the detention and search must be based on more than a hunch.
For example, in the Florida case of Musallam v. State, 133 So.3d 568 (2014), a deputy ordered Mr. Musallam to leave a public park for violating a no smoking ordinance.
A few minutes later, the deputy saw Mr. Musallam again but this time the deputy noticed a bulge in the Mr. Musallam’s pocket that he had not noticed during the first encounter.
When the deputy asked Musallam for consent to a pat-down search, Mr. Musallam refused. The deputy then detained Mr. Musallam and discovered a concealed firearm in his pocket. Mr. Musallam did not have a Concealed Weapon License.
An appeals court reviewed the case and noted that just because Mr. Musallam may have had something in his pocket that he did not have had a few minutes earlier, this did not give the deputy a well-founded suspicion of criminal activity sufficient to detain and search Mr. Musallam.
Therefore, the Court held that the detention and search of Mr. Musallam violated the Fourth Amendment and ordered the case dismissed.
The Firearm Wasn’t Concealed
In the case of Dorelus v. State, 747 So.2d 369 (1999) the Florida Supreme Court noted that in order for a person to be found guilty of Possession of a Concealed Firearm, the firearm must actually be concealed.
In that case, police had stopped Mr. Dorelus for a minor traffic infraction.While standing outside the vehicle, the arresting officer observed the shiny silver butt of a handgun sticking out of the console located underneath the radio. The officer then arrested Mr. Dorelus and charged him with Possession of a Concealed Firearm.
The Florida Supreme Court found that there was no indication that the firearm was covered in any manner, nor was there or any attempt on the Mr. Dorelus’ part to hide the presence of the firearm. Also, the Court found that the police officer had no difficulty recognizing the object as a firearm. Therefore, the Court held that that the firearm had not been concealed and the case should be dismissed.
Are you looking for the best criminal defense lawyer in Tampa Florida to represent you in a Carrying a Concealed Firearm case?
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of Carrying a Concealed Firearm. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling Carrying a Concealed Firearm charges.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.