Attorney Defense for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Orlando, Florida
Understanding Firearm Possession by a Convicted Felon in Orlando, Florida
In the sun-kissed state of Florida, renowned for its vibrant culture and bustling cities like Orlando, there exists a stringent legal framework aimed at curbing gun-related offenses. Florida’s commitment to ensuring its streets remain safe for both residents and visitors alike has led to the establishment of laws that are particularly strict for those who have previously faced felony convictions.
A felony conviction can be a life-altering event, impacting not just the individual’s immediate circumstances but also their future rights and privileges. Among these rights is the ability to own, possess, or be in close proximity to firearms and ammunition. In Florida, this restriction on firearm possession for convicted felons is not just a matter of protocol; it’s a reflection of the state’s broader public safety strategy.
Why does Florida adopt such a strict stance? The rationale is multifold:
- Reduction of Gun-Related Crimes: Research and statistics have shown that restricting firearm access to high-risk groups, including convicted felons, can significantly reduce the occurrence of gun-related crimes. By keeping firearms out of the hands of those who might have previously engaged in criminal activity, the state aims to mitigate potential future threats.
- Community Safety: Cities like Orlando, which attract millions of visitors each year due to their popular tourist attractions, have a vested interest in ensuring safety. A safe environment not only ensures the well-being of its citizens but also fosters a positive reputation, crucial for tourism and business.
- Preventive Measure: By restricting firearm possession for those with a felony record, the state aims to prevent potential recidivism. This is based on the idea that individuals who have previously committed felonies might be more prone to engage in future unlawful activities if they have access to weapons.
- Setting a Precedent: The laws also send a clear message about the state’s position on gun-related offenses. By imposing strict regulations and consequences, Florida emphasizes its zero-tolerance policy towards any actions that might jeopardize public safety.
- Supporting Broader Initiatives: The state’s stance on firearm possession by convicted felons complements broader initiatives to combat gun violence. This includes community outreach programs, education campaigns, and collaboration with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that gun laws are uniformly enforced.
Florida’s stringent laws surrounding firearm possession by those with felony convictions are deeply intertwined with its commitment to community safety and crime reduction. These laws, especially in bustling hubs like Orlando, play a pivotal role in shaping the state’s broader strategy to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all.
Legal Framework: Section 790.23, Florida Statutes
The Florida Statutes have a specific section, Section 790.23, dedicated to this matter. When discussing possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon, this section is of paramount importance.
The Two Essential Elements
For someone to be charged under this law, two primary conditions must be met:
- Ownership or Possession of a Firearm/Ammunition:
- The individual doesn’t necessarily have to physically hold the firearm or ammunition. Even if they have control over it or it’s in their care, it qualifies for this element. This means that if a person has a firearm in their home, car, or any other place under their control, they can be found to possess it, even if they aren’t holding it directly.
- It’s worth noting that this doesn’t just cover firearms. Ammunition is also considered under this law. So, possessing bullets or other gun-related accessories, when not allowed, can also lead to legal consequences.
- Previous Conviction:
- This element pertains to the individual’s past. If they have been convicted of a felony – be it in Florida, by the federal government, in another state, or even another country – they fall under this category. A felony conviction casts a long shadow, and the law restricts such individuals from possessing firearms or ammunition for safety reasons.
- It’s crucial to understand the breadth of this rule. Even if the felony conviction wasn’t in Florida but elsewhere, it still applies. The law recognizes and respects convictions from other jurisdictions.
Penalties for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Florida
In Florida, laws are set up to deter individuals, especially those with prior felony convictions, from possessing firearms. These laws are designed with public safety in mind, with penalties scaled to the seriousness of the offense and any contributing circumstances.
1. Regular Possession:
- The baseline charge for this offense is considered a second-degree felony.
- If convicted, a person can face significant penalties, including up to 15 years in prison or probation and a fine of up to $10,000.
2. Gang-Related Enhancement:
- If the act is tied to gang-related activities, the gravity of the crime intensifies.
- In such cases, the charge is elevated to a first-degree felony, bringing harsher consequences.
- A person convicted under this enhancement could face a sentence of up to life in prison, with the fine remaining at $10,000.
Breaking It Down
- Severity Level: The severity level is a metric used in Florida’s criminal justice system to classify offenses. A higher severity level means the crime is considered more serious and the penalties more severe.
- 10-20-Life Law: Florida has a specific law known as the “10-20-Life law.” Under this legislation, there are mandatory minimum sentences for specific firearm-related offenses. In the context of firearm possession by a convicted felon, if the person is found in actual possession of the weapon, they face a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison.
- Gang-Related Enhancement: Criminal acts linked to gang activity are a particular concern for law enforcement. To address this, Florida has provisions that can elevate the charges and penalties for certain offenses if they are tied to gangs. The very fact that the firearm possession is related to gang activity makes the crime more severe, hence the jump from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.
At A Glance: Charges and Penalties
- Regular Possession:
- Penalty Type: Second-degree felony
- Severity Level: 5
- Maximum Sentence: Up to 15 years of prison or probation and a $10,000 fine
- Minimum Sentence: 3 years in prison if in actual possession (due to the 10-20-Life law)
- Gang-Related Enhancement:
- Penalty Type: First-degree felony
- Severity Level: 7
- Maximum Sentence: Life in prison and a $10,000 fine
- Minimum Sentence: 21 months in prison
|Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon (Regular)
||Severity Level 5
||Up to 15 years of prison, or $10,000 fine
||3 years in prison under 10-20-Life law (if in actual possession)
|Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon (Gang-Related Enhancement)
||Severity Level 7
||Up to life in prison, $10,000 fine
||Minimum of 21 months in prison
Understanding the gravity of these penalties emphasizes the importance of adhering to firearm regulations, especially for those with a criminal history. For those facing such charges, seeking competent legal representation is crucial.
How to Fight a Charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Florida
Following a felony conviction, an individual may be stripped of certain civil liberties. However, with time and through legal channels, it’s possible for a person to regain some or all of these rights. This includes the right to participate in democratic processes, such as voting, serving on a jury, or even contesting in public elections. One of the most contentious of these rights is the ability to own and possess firearms.
If a convicted felon has gone through the necessary legal procedures to restore their right to own firearms, then this becomes an essential aspect of their defense. In such a scenario, the mere possession of a firearm wouldn’t be a breach of the law, provided that the restoration of rights was lawfully granted.
Expungement of Criminal Records
Minors, in particular, have avenues for a fresh start. Through the process of record sealing or expungement, their criminal history can be, for most intents and purposes, erased. This legal clean slate offers them an opportunity to reintegrate fully into society.
Once a record is expunged, many rights are reinstated, including the right to possess firearms. The complexities and nuances of sealing or expunging criminal records can be delved into further on dedicated pages addressing the topic.
Distinguishing Possession Types
Florida’s legal system is intricate, with clear distinctions made between different types of possessions when it comes to firearms.
- Actual Possession: This is straightforward and indicates that the accused had the firearm on their person. For instance, if a gun was retrieved from their backpack or pocket, it denotes actual possession.
- Constructive Possession: This is more nuanced. It implies that the accused had control over the firearm’s location, even if it wasn’t directly on them. If a firearm was found in an accused person’s locked drawer or car, it may be deemed as constructive possession.
Understanding this distinction is vital. Arguing that an accused had mere constructive possession could potentially shield them from the more severe repercussions associated with actual possession.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
Respect for individual rights is paramount. If there’s an indication that evidence was collected in violation of these rights, a motion can be filed to suppress it. For instance, a firearm retrieved during an illegal search, without proper warrants or just cause, can be contested in court. If the motion succeeds, the evidence could become inadmissible, substantially weakening the prosecution.
Alibi as a Defense
Sometimes, the best defense is an alibi. If an accused can conclusively prove that they were elsewhere when the alleged possession took place, the charges could be dropped. Effective alibi evidence can range from surveillance footage and time-stamped electronic data to unimpeachable witness testimonies.
Challenging Witness Credibility
Witnesses are human, and humans can err or be biased. If a key component of the prosecution’s case rests on a witness’s statement, any inconsistency or potential bias in their testimony can be leveraged to challenge the case’s foundation. Proving that a witness is unreliable could introduce reasonable doubt, a cornerstone for any defense.
FAQs on Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Florida
Q: Are there any situations where a convicted felon can be around firearms, even if they don’t possess them?
A: Yes, such that when a convicted felon who does not physically possess the firearm but is in an environment where firearms are accessible might lead to “constructive possession” charges.
Q: Can I travel to another state with a firearm if my firearm rights are restored in Florida?
A: Firearm laws vary by state. If your rights are restored in Florida, you still need to be aware of and comply with the laws of any state you travel to.
Q: What constitutes an “unconstitutional traffic stop” mentioned in the defenses?
A: An unconstitutional traffic stop occurs when law enforcement stops a vehicle without a valid reason, such as a traffic violation or suspicion of criminal activity. Any evidence obtained from such a stop could be considered inadmissible in court.
Q: How does Florida’s 10-20-Life law work?
A: Florida’s 10-20-Life law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearm-related offenses. For example, committing a crime with a gun can lead to a 10-year minimum sentence, firing a gun during the commission of a felony leads to a 20-year minimum, and shooting someone (even accidentally) during a felony can lead to 25 years to life.
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