The State of Florida takes gun charges very seriously, so if you're facing gun charges, it's important that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Whether it is a 1st-time gun charge or you are a repeat offender, there is hope that you may be able to have your charges reduced. A strong defense and the right legal representation make a significant difference in the outcome of the case.
Florida has strict gun laws, and the penalties for a firearm-related offense can greatly impact an individual’s life, including fines, mandatory minimum prison sentences, and loss of firearm rights. In such cases, employing appropriate defense strategies such as self-defense or disputing the prosecution's claims is essential in achieving a favorable outcome. Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer increases the chances of reducing or dismissing the gun charge, allowing for a better resolution for the accused individual.
Navigating the legal system can be complex, and hiring an experienced, qualified defense attorney is the first and most important step for those seeking to have their gun charges dismissed or reduced. With an attorney's guidance and expertise, individuals can better understand their rights, the legal process, and the most effective defense strategies for their specific circumstances.
Understanding Florida's Gun Laws
Florida has specific regulations surrounding the ownership, purchase, and carrying of firearms that residents and visitors must understand and adhere to. These regulations are split into two main categories: firearm regulations and offenses, and concealed weapon licensing and penalties.
Firearm Regulations and Offenses
Florida has several rules and restrictions governing the use and ownership of firearms. Below is a list of some key aspects:
- Age requirement: Individuals must be at least 21 to purchase a firearm at a licensed dealer.
- Background checks: Background checks are required for firearm purchases from licensed dealers but not for private sales or transactions at gun shows.
- Waiting period: A waiting period of 3 days is enforced between the purchase and delivery of a handgun, excluding weekends and legal holidays, unless the individual has a concealed carry permit.
- Possession restrictions: Certain individuals, such as convicted felons or those with domestic violence restraining orders, are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.
Various firearm offenses can result in misdemeanor or felony charges in Florida, depending on the severity of the offense. These offenses include:
- Unlawful discharge: Discharging a firearm in public or over a public roadway can lead to a misdemeanor charge.
- Carrying without a permit: Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is a third-degree felony in Florida.
Possession by a prohibited person: If a person prohibited from owning a firearm is found in possession of one, they may face felony charges.
Concealed Weapon Licensing and Penalties
In Florida, individuals must possess a valid license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The licensing process involves meeting specific requirements, including:
- Must be at least 21 years old.
- Proof of completion of an approved firearms training course.
- No disqualifying criminal convictions.
- Must pass a background check.
Out-of-state applicants can also apply for a Florida concealed carry permit by following similar guidelines.
Violating the concealed carry licensing rules can result in serious penalties. Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, for example, is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
When facing a gun charge in Florida, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with Florida's firearm laws and can provide guidance on the best course of action to have the charge dismissed or reduced.
Legal Defenses Against Gun Charges
In Florida, there are several legal defenses that can be used by a skilled defense attorney to fight against gun charges. This section will discuss three main defenses: self-defense and stand your ground, insufficient evidence and illegal search and seizure, and lack of probable cause and wrongful identification.
Self-Defense and Stand Your Ground
In Florida, self-defense is a common legal defense raised by those accused of gun charges. Under the "stand your ground" law in Florida, a person has no duty to retreat from a situation if they believe it is necessary to use force to protect themselves from an immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death. A knowledgeable attorney can argue that their client used a firearm solely in self-defense, following the stand-your-ground law, which could lead to the dismissal or reduction of gun charges.
Insufficient Evidence and Illegal Search and Seizure
Another possible defense against gun charges is that there is insufficient evidence to prove the accused possessed or used a firearm illegally. This can include lack of witnesses, inconclusive forensic evidence, or situations where the evidence was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. An experienced lawyer can challenge the prosecution's evidence and argue that the firearm was found during an illegal search or that the officers did not have valid probable cause for the search. If the court agrees, the evidence may be thrown out, leading to a dismissal or reduction of the charges.
Lack of Probable Cause and Wrongful Identification
A skilled defense attorney may argue that the arrest was made without proper probable cause, meaning that the officers did not have sufficient reason to believe that the accused had committed a crime. This could result in the dismissal of the gun charges if the court finds that the arrest was unlawful. Additionally, the attorney can contest the validity of the accusation if there was a case of mistaken identity or wrongful identification by witnesses or law enforcement. By challenging the accuracy of identification methods and presenting alternative evidence that supports their client's innocence, the lawyer may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced.
The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney
In cases involving gun charges in Florida, a criminal defense attorney plays a crucial role in helping defendants navigate the legal system and potentially have their charges dismissed or reduced. These attorneys have a deep understanding of the law and use their expertise to provide effective legal representation.
Navigating Through Legal Processes
A defense attorney will begin the process by examining the case thoroughly to identify any potential grounds for dismissal. Some of the common defenses for gun charges include:
- Unlawful search and seizure: If the police conducted a search or seizure without proper legal grounds, the evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible in court.
- Lack of probable cause: If the arrest was made without sufficient evidence or reasonable suspicion, it may be challenged, and the charges can be dismissed.
- Self-defense: If the defendant was using the weapon in self-defense, it could provide a valid defense against the charges.
- Mistaken identity: If the defendant was mistakenly accused due to incorrect identification, the case could potentially be dismissed.
By identifying these potential defenses and presenting them to the court, the defense attorney can challenge the prosecution's evidence and weaken their case.
Negotiation and Plea Bargains
Apart from legal defenses, a defense attorney also offers valuable legal services, such as negotiation and plea bargain strategies. These services can be beneficial in reducing or dismissing charges:
Negotiation: A skilled attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to question the strength of the case. Through negotiation, they can potentially convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges, dismiss them, or offer a favorable plea deal.
Plea bargains: In some cases, a plea bargain can be the best option for a defendant. The defense attorney can negotiate a plea agreement that benefits the defendant by reducing the charges or advocating for lighter penalties.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is necessary to navigate the complex legal processes and negotiate with the prosecutor. Through their expertise, defense attorneys can potentially have gun charges dismissed or reduced in Florida.
Diversion Programs and Alternative Sentencing
Diversion programs and alternative sentencing offer those facing gun charges in Florida an opportunity to avoid or reduce their sentence and potentially avoid a criminal conviction. These programs may include probation, community service, counseling, and other requirements but can often lead to the dismissal or reduction of charges.
Eligibility for Diversion
To be eligible for a diversion program, the accused must typically be a first-time offender or have a limited criminal history. The offense must be nonviolent and may involve firearms-related charges such as unlawful possession, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, or an ineligible person in possession of a firearm, among others. Each program and jurisdiction may have its own specific eligibility criteria, which may consider factors like the individual's level of cooperation, willingness to participate, and any extenuating circumstances surrounding the offense.
Impact on Criminal Records
Successful completion of a diversion program can lead to dismissal of charges or a reduction in sentencing. In some cases, this may allow the individual to avoid a formal criminal conviction on their record. However, it is important to note that participation in a program may still appear on a person's criminal history but with an indication that the charges were dismissed or reduced.
Some diversion programs may also offer the opportunity for expungement, which can remove the record of the arrest and participation in the program from the individual's criminal history, making it inaccessible to the public. In other cases, the individual may need to complete a separate expungement process in order to remove the record entirely.
Overall, diversion programs and alternative sentencing can provide individuals facing gun charges in Florida with a valuable opportunity to avoid or lessen the negative consequences of a criminal conviction. By fulfilling the requirements of these programs, individuals have the chance to rehabilitate and reintegrate themselves into the community while showing a commitment to addressing their mistakes and bettering their lives.
How Much Is Bail for Gun Possession?
One of your rights when facing any criminal charge is protection against excessive bail amounts. What this means is that unless the courts rule that you should remain imprisoned without the option of posting bail, the cost cannot be more than you are reasonably expected to be able to pay.
However, the amount of bail a judge sets will depend on a variety of factors. Such factors include whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, whether you are facing a 1st-time gun charge or are a repeat offender, whether your charge is a violation of probation, and whether or not you used the gun while committing another crime such as burglary or assault.
The more severe your charges are, the higher you should expect bail to be. The courts may also hold you without bail, meaning that you will remain in jail until your trial begins. Additionally, a judge may release you on your own recognizance until trial, meaning that you will not have to pay a thing for release.
The courts will set bail at your arraignment hearing. An arraignment hearing typically takes place 48- to 72 hours after your arrest.
If you do not have enough money to pay your bail for a gun charge in Florida, you may contact a bondsman. A bondsman will charge a fee that is a percentage of the bail amount and post the rest under the condition that you appear at your next court date.
The courts may also provide you with the option of a property bond, which is where you post the title to your house or assets to cover cash you do not have available. If you do not appear at your next court date, you may forfeit the right to the title of your home.
Probation for a Gun Charge in Florida
Many individuals worry that they are sure to face jail time after receiving a gun charge in Florida. However, this is not always the case. Particularly if it is a 1st-time gun charge, and you have an otherwise clean record. Additionally, if you receive charges for a non-violent gun crime, your chances of receiving probation instead of jail time are even better.
However, you need an experienced lawyer to fight for you. An attorney who will work tirelessly to build your defense case and show the courts why you should not be imprisoned. Having character witnesses, being gainfully employed, and having responsibilities within the community can significantly help your case. A lawyer will know how to present these things to the courts in the most effective way to increase your chances of receiving probation.
Misdemeanor Gun Charges vs. Felony Gun Charges
Another misconception that many individuals have is that all gun charges in Florida are felony charges. In fact, some are misdemeanors. While this may not spare you from having a criminal record, it will make your future much easier. For this reason, if you are facing charges for a felony gun charge in Florida, you must hire an attorney. It may be possible to have your charges reduced.
Being a convicted felon will follow you around for the rest of your life, making it challenging to find employment and housing. Additionally, you may lose your right to own or carry a firearm in the future as a result of a conviction.
However, misdemeanor charges do not have such serious repercussions. With a misdemeanor charge, you may not face any jail time at all, and you will not lose your right to own a gun.
How Much Jail Time Can You Get for a Gun Charge?
How much jail time you will face for a gun charge depends on many of the same scenarios as what your bail will be. Whether it is a 1st-time gun charge, a repeat offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony charge are all taken into account by the courts. Sentencing is at the discretion of the judge, so you must have an aggressive lawyer to fight your case.
Whenever you are charged with a crime, felony or misdemeanor, you can face the possibility of probation and/or incarceration. There are ways to work out negotiated settlements where you do not go to jail or are placed on probation. However, if you are a repeat offender, are facing felony charges, or your gun charge accompanies another violent crime, you can face up to 25 years in prison, depending on the circumstances specific to your case. With so much to lose, you must hire the best attorney for your defense.
Hiring an Attorney
If you are facing a gun charge in Florida, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, contact Weinstein Legal today and ask for Florida weapons and firearms possession attorney Matt Shafran. Mr. Shafran will begin working on your case right away to give you the best case in court and attempt to have your gun charge reduced or dismissed by a judge.