Carrying A Concealed Weapon Or Firearm Without A License In Tampa

Carrying A Concealed Weapon Or Firearm Without A License In Tampa

Types of Weapons Offenses in Tampa, Florida:

 

 

CARRYING A CONCEALED FIREARM IN TAMPA WITHOUT A LICENSE

CARRYING A CONCEALED FIREARM IN TAMPA WITHOUT A LICENSE

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:

  1. The accused knowingly carried on or about his person a firearm.
  1. The firearm was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.

Maximum Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Tampa Without A License

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 Tampa Without A License

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.

 

CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON IN TAMPA WITHOUT A LICENSE

CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON IN TAMPA WITHOUT A LICENSE

In Florida, it is against the law for a person to carry a concealed weapon 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 Weapon, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. The accused knowingly carried on or about his or her person a weapon.
  1. The weapon was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.

The definition of a concealed weapon includes an electric weapon, metallic knuckles, a chemical weapon, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.

Maximum Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon In Tampa Without A License

In Florida, Carrying a Concealed Weapon is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of:

One year of imprisonment
A $1,000.00 fine
12 months of probation

Possible Defenses to a charge of carrying a Concealed Weapon in Tampa Without A License

Lack of Knowledge

There are instances where people carry concealed weapons unknowingly.

For example, sometimes an accused brings carry-on luggage through an airport security line without realizing that the luggage contains a concealed weapon.  This might happen because the person forgot about the weapon being in the luggage, or because, unbeknownst to the person, a family member or roommate put the weapon 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 Weapon.  However, if the accused person was not aware that he or she was carrying the weapon, they are not guilty of the charge.

Another example of lack of knowledge in a concealed weapon case arises when people drive vehicles that don’t belong to them.  Imagine that the owner of a vehicle keeps a hunting knife under the front seat.  One day, the owner lends the vehicle to a friend for the day without removing the hunting knife.  Although the friend may drive around with this concealed weapon in the vehicle, he is not guilty of the crime, as he doesn’t even know the hunting knife is present.

The Accused Has a Valid Concealed Weapon License

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues licenses to carry concealed weapons to qualified persons.  These licenses are valid for 7 years.

Aside from firearms, a Florida Concealed Weapon License allows a license holder to carry a concealed electronic weapon, tear gas gun, knife, or Billie.The Florida Statutes do not define “Billie.” However, a Florida Court has defined a “Billie” as a short wooden club, especially a police officer’s club.

The licensed person must carry the license, together with valid identification, whenever they carry a concealed weapon.

The Weapon Was Transported Securely Encased In A Private Conveyance

Florida Law permits the carrying of a concealed weapon for self-defense within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the weapon 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 hunting knife into their glove compartment, that person would not be guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, as the Florida Private Conveyance Exception would apply.

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.

 

FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN TAMPA

FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN TAMPA

In Florida, it is against the law for a person that has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm.

What Must The Prosecutor Prove To Convict An Accused Of Felon In Possession Of A Firearm In Tampa?

To convict an accused of felon in possession of a firearm, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. The accused had been convicted of a felony.
  1. After the conviction, the accused knowingly possessed a firearm.

“Convicted” means that a judge has found a person guilty of a crime.  A withhold of adjudication does not count as a conviction.

What Does The Phrase “Possess A Firearm” Mean?

There are two ways in which a person can possess a firearm:

  1. Actual Possession of a Firearm

Actual possession of a firearm means the person is aware of the presence of the firearm, and:

  1. The firearm is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The firearm is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The firearm is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, if a person carries around a shopping bag and knows that the shopping bag contains a firearm, that person has actual possession of the firearm.

  1. Constructive Possession of a Firearm

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the firearm, the firearm is in a place over which the personhas control, and the person has the ability to control the firearm.

For example, if a person hidesa firearm in the attic of his home and then leaves the home to go to work, he stillhas constructive possession of the firearm because he is aware of the presence of the firearm, the firearm is in a place over which hehas control, and he has the ability to control the firearm.

What Are The Penalties For Felon In Possession Of A Firearm in Tampa?

In Florida, felon in possession of a firearm is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  • 15 years of imprisonment
  • A $10,000.00 fine
  • 15 years of probation

However, if the accused is convicted of actual possession of a firearm, the judge must impose a 3-year minimum mandatory prison sentence.

What If The Accused Possessed Ammunition Rather Than A Firearm?

Florida law also prohibits persons convicted of felonies from possessing ammunition.

The penalties for felon in possession of ammunition are the same as the penalties for felon in possession a firearm.

Do Juvenile Felony Convictions Count As Prior Convictions In A Florida Felon In Possession Of A Firearm Case?

Yes, but only until the person turns 24 years old.

So, if a judge adjudicates aperson delinquent in a felony case, then that person cannot legally possess a firearm until then have turned 24 years old.  If the persondoes possess a firearm before they turn 24 years old, the police can charge them with felon in possession of a firearm.

However, the 3-year minimum mandatory prison sentence that applieswhen a convicted felon has actual possession of a firearm does not apply to persons whoare considered convicted felons because they were adjudicated delinquent as juveniles.

What Are Some Defenses to Felon in Possession of a Firearm in Tampa?

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant from a judge before he or she can search a suspect.

There are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

For example, imagine a person named Robert has a prior felony conviction.  One day a police officer, based on nothing more than a hunch, asks Robert for consent to searchhim.  The officer tells Robert that if he does not consent to the search, that the officer will arrest him and take him to jail.  Robert consents to the search, and the police officer finds a firearm in his jacket. The police officer then arrests Robertand charges him with felon in possession of a firearm.

In a case like this, Robert’s defense attorney could file a motion to suppress, and argue that Robert’s consent to search was not voluntary, but coerced.  If the judge agrees, the judge will order that all evidence that was obtainedduring the search (including the firearm) will be inadmissibleat a trial.  In that case, the prosecutor would likelydismiss the case.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

When police detain a suspect, they must read the suspect his or her Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to read the suspect his Miranda rights, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

Frequently, in felon in possession of a firearm cases, the prosecutor needs the accused person’s statement to police in order to prove the accused knew about the presence of the firearm.  If the police officer failed to read the suspect his Miranda rights, or the police officer read the Miranda rights incorrectly, the judge will exclude the suspect’s statement, leaving the prosecutor without enough evidence to prove the case.

  1. Lack of Evidence to Prove Constructive Possession

As stated above, for a person to have constructive possession of a firearm, the person must be aware of the presence of the firearm, the firearm must be in a place over which the person has control, and the person must have the ability to control the firearm.

Sometimes, a prosecutor may be able to prove one or two of the constructive possession requirements, but not all three.

For example, imagine that Fred has a felony conviction.  One afternoon, Fred borrows his friend’s car to go to the store, but on the way he gets stopped for speeding. While the police officer is handing Fred a speeding ticket, she notices a firearm on the rear floorboard of the vehicle.  The police officer, aware that Fred is a convicted felon, arrests Fred for felon in possession of a firearm.

In these circumstances, a defense attorney can ask the prosecutor to drop the charges against Fred, arguing to the prosecutor that without more evidence (like Fred’s fingerprints on the gun, or Fred’s admission that he knew the gun was in the car) the prosecutor won’t be able to prove that Fred was aware of the firearm’s presence.

  1. Unlawful Detention

In order to detain a person, the law says that a police officer needs to have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.  However, sometimes police officers stop people based on hunches, rather than well-founded reasons.

When police officers detain and search persons without a reasonable suspicion, a defense attorney can file a motion requesting that the judge exclude any evidence that was discovered as a result of the unlawful detention and search.

Are you looking for the best Weapons Offense lawyer in Tampa Florida? Contact Attorney David C. Hardy.

Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of a Weapons Offense.  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 all types of Weapons Offense cases.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a Weapons Offense in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, contact Attorney David C. Hardy. He has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results for your Tampa firearms defense.