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Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun



What is Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun?

Possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun is a serious offense under Florida law. This crime involves owning, controlling, or having custody of a firearm that is classified as a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun. According to the 2023 Florida Statutes, it is unlawful for any individual to possess these types of firearms unless they are considered antique firearms or are lawfully owned under federal law.

What is possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun? Possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun in Florida means having ownership, control, or custody of these specific types of firearms, which is prohibited under state law unless the firearm is an antique or lawfully owned under federal regulations.

Under Florida Statute 790.221, a short-barreled shotgun is defined as a shotgun with one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length, or any weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than 26 inches. A machine gun is defined as any firearm that can shoot, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

For instance, if someone is found in possession of a shotgun that has been altered to have a barrel length of 16 inches, it would be classified as a short-barreled shotgun. Similarly, a firearm capable of firing multiple rounds with a single trigger pull is considered a machine gun. Both types of firearms are subject to stringent regulations under Florida law.

Understanding these definitions is crucial for anyone dealing with firearm-related legal issues. The legal elements that constitute this crime include:

  • Ownership or Control: Having legal possession or control over a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun.
  • Operability: The firearm must be operable or capable of being made operable.
  • Exclusions: Antique firearms or those lawfully owned under federal law are excluded from this statute.

Given the complexity and severity of these charges, it is essential to consult with an experienced Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer who can provide expert guidance and representation.

Short-Barreled Shotgun and Machine Gun

At Leppard Law, we understand the gravity of firearm-related charges and are committed to defending your rights with the utmost dedication. For more information on specific firearm offenses, visit our pages on Concealed Carry Laws and Strategic Defense for Weapon-Involved Offenses.

Penalties for Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun

The penalties for possessing a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun in Florida are severe. Violating this statute is classified as a felony of the second degree. This can result in significant legal consequences, including:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Probation and other court-ordered penalties

These penalties underscore the importance of understanding and complying with firearm laws in Florida to avoid severe legal repercussions.

Penalties for Firearm Possession

Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, a Level 5 offense like the possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun carries a score starting at 28 points on the sentencing guidelines score sheet. This means that even a single Level 5 offense can trigger the state prison sentence formula, which is calculated as (total points − 28) × 0.75. While this could initially result in a minimum sentence of zero months, any additional points for other offenses or legal status violations can quickly escalate the minimum sentence.

For example, if an individual is also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the sentencing points could increase dramatically, leading to a more severe penalty. This makes it crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of how various charges can compound and influence sentencing outcomes.

What are the penalties for possessing a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun? Possessing a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun in Florida is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, fines up to $10,000, and probation.

Additionally, the financial burden of fines, legal fees, and mandatory programs can be overwhelming. If you’re a professional, such as a nurse or a commercial airline pilot, a felony conviction can jeopardize your career and professional license.

Collateral Consequences

Beyond the direct legal penalties, a felony conviction for possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun can have long-lasting effects on various aspects of your life, including:

  • Employment: Finding or maintaining employment can become challenging with a felony record.
  • Housing: Many landlords conduct background checks and may deny housing to individuals with felony convictions.
  • Firearm Rights: A felony conviction often results in the loss of the right to own or possess firearms.
  • Voting Rights: In Florida, felons lose their right to vote until their sentence is completed, including probation and parole.

The cumulative impact of these collateral consequences can be devastating, affecting your quality of life and future opportunities. This is why it’s crucial to seek legal help immediately if you’re facing such charges. An experienced Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate this complex legal landscape.

At Leppard Law, we have a deep understanding of Florida’s firearm laws and the severe penalties associated with violations. Our team is dedicated to defending your rights and helping you achieve the best possible outcome. Whether you need assistance with discharging any destructive device or other firearm-related offenses, we are here to help.

Don’t let a felony conviction for possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun ruin your life. Contact Leppard Law at 407-476-4111 to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward protecting your future.

Examples of Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun

To better understand what constitutes possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun, consider the following hypothetical examples:

  • Example 1: John is found with a shotgun that has been modified to have a barrel length of 16 inches. Despite the modification, the weapon is still classified as a short-barreled shotgun under Florida law.
  • Example 2: Sarah owns a firearm that can shoot multiple rounds automatically with a single trigger pull. This firearm is classified as a machine gun, making her possession of it illegal unless properly registered under federal law.

These examples illustrate how specific modifications or characteristics of a firearm can lead to serious legal charges.

Another example involves Tom, who unknowingly buys a firearm from an unlicensed dealer. Later, he discovers the firearm is a short-barreled shotgun. Despite his lack of knowledge, Tom could still face severe legal penalties due to the strict nature of Florida’s weapon laws.

In a different scenario, Emily is found in possession of a firearm that has been altered to fire automatically. Even though she did not make the modifications herself, she is still liable under Florida Statute 790.221, which clearly defines the possession of such firearms as a felony of the second degree.

What is considered a short-barreled shotgun? A short-barreled shotgun is a shotgun with one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length or any weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

In addition to these examples, it’s important to note that possession doesn’t necessarily mean ownership. If you have control over the firearm, even temporarily, you could be charged. For instance, if you borrow a friend’s modified shotgun for hunting, you could still face legal repercussions.

Similarly, living in a household where another individual possesses a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun can also put you at risk. If law enforcement finds the firearm in a common area or in your personal space, you might be charged with possession even if the weapon belongs to someone else.

Understanding these nuances can help you avoid unintentional violations of Florida’s strict firearm laws. If you find yourself facing such charges, it’s crucial to seek legal assistance immediately. An experienced Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate these complex legal issues.

At Leppard Law, we specialize in defending clients against various firearm-related charges. Whether you’re dealing with possession of a firearm in violation of an injunction or other serious allegations, our team is here to help. We understand the intricacies of Florida’s firearm laws and can develop a strategic defense tailored to your unique situation.

If you or a loved one are facing charges related to the possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact Leppard Law at 407-476-4111 to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward protecting your future.


Defenses Against Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun Charges

Facing charges for possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun in Florida is a serious matter. However, there are several defenses that a skilled attorney might employ to contest these charges. Each case is unique, and the specific facts will determine the most effective defense strategy. Here are some common legal defenses:

  • Lack of Knowledge: One of the most straightforward defenses is arguing that the defendant was unaware that the firearm in their possession was classified as a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun. For example, if someone purchased a firearm without knowing it had been modified to have a shorter barrel, this defense might be applicable.
  • Antique Firearms: Florida law provides an exception for antique firearms. If the firearm in question qualifies as an antique under the law, it may be exempt from the regulations that apply to modern firearms. This defense requires a detailed examination of the firearm’s characteristics and history.
  • Lawful Possession: Another defense is proving that the firearm was lawfully owned and possessed under federal law. This involves showing that the firearm was registered and compliant with federal regulations, which can be a complex process requiring thorough documentation.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: Challenging the legality of how the firearm was discovered and seized by law enforcement can be a powerful defense. If the firearm was found during an illegal search or if there was no probable cause for the search, the evidence might be inadmissible in court.

Each of these defenses requires a nuanced understanding of both state and federal firearm laws. Consulting with an experienced Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer is crucial for navigating these complex legal issues. Our team at Leppard Law specializes in firearms defense and can provide the expertise you need to build a strong case.

What is an antique firearm? An antique firearm is defined under federal law as any firearm manufactured before 1899, or any replica of such a firearm that does not use conventional ammunition.

Let’s delve deeper into each of these defenses to understand how they might be applied in real-world scenarios:

Lack of Knowledge

Imagine being handed a firearm by a friend for safekeeping, only to later discover that it has been modified into a short-barreled shotgun. In such cases, the lack of knowledge defense can be pivotal. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed the illegal firearm. If you genuinely did not know the firearm’s illegal status, this defense could lead to a dismissal of charges.

However, proving lack of knowledge isn’t straightforward. It requires a detailed investigation and often, testimony from witnesses who can corroborate your claim. An experienced Orlando Weapons Crimes Lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence to support this defense.

Antique Firearms

Antique firearms are a special category under both state and federal laws. To qualify as an antique firearm, the weapon must meet specific criteria. For instance, it must be manufactured before 1899 or be a replica that does not use conventional ammunition. Proving that your firearm qualifies as an antique involves presenting detailed historical and technical evidence.

This defense can be particularly effective but requires the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney. At Leppard Law, we have successfully defended clients by proving that their firearms were antiques, thus exempting them from the charges. If you believe your firearm qualifies as an antique, consult with our Orlando Firearm Lawyer to explore this defense option.

Lawful Possession

Federal law allows for the lawful possession of certain types of firearms, provided they are properly registered. If you can demonstrate that your short-barreled shotgun or machine gun was lawfully owned under federal regulations, you may have a strong defense. This involves presenting registration documents and compliance records to the court.

However, navigating federal firearm laws can be complicated. It requires a thorough understanding of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and other relevant regulations. Our team at Leppard Law has extensive experience in this area and can help you build a robust defense. For more information on lawful possession defenses, contact our Orlando Firearm Lawyer.

Illegal Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement officials conducted an illegal search or lacked probable cause, any evidence obtained might be inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially lead to a dismissal of charges.

Challenging the legality of a search requires a detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding the arrest. An experienced attorney can scrutinize police reports, witness statements, and other evidence to identify any violations of your constitutional rights. If you believe your firearm was seized unlawfully, consult with our Orlando Firearm Lawyer to explore this defense.

Criminal Law Defense

At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities of firearm-related charges and are committed to providing personalized, effective defense strategies. If you or a loved one are facing charges for possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us at 407-476-4111 to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward protecting your future.


Infographic depicting the words Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Machine Gun


What is the definition of a short-barreled shotgun?

A short-barreled shotgun is defined under Florida Statute 790.221 as a shotgun with one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length, or any weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

What are the penalties for possession of a machine gun in Florida?

The penalties for possession of a machine gun in Florida include up to 15 years in prison, fines up to $10,000, and potential probation. This offense is classified as a felony of the second degree.

Can antique firearms be classified as short-barreled shotguns or machine guns?

Antique firearms are generally exempt from the regulations that apply to short-barreled shotguns and machine guns under Florida law. To qualify as an antique, the firearm must meet specific criteria, such as being manufactured before 1899.

What should I do if I’m charged with possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun?

If you are charged with possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun, it is crucial to consult with an experienced firearms defense attorney. They can help you navigate the legal complexities and build a strong defense strategy.

Possession of a short-barreled shotgun or machine gun is a serious offense under Florida law, carrying severe penalties including up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

For more information on related defenses, visit our page on strategic defense for weapon-involved offenses. If you need immediate assistance, contact us at 407-476-4111 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer.


Explore additional practice areas we specialize in to ensure you receive comprehensive legal support:

Orlando Gun Crime Lawyer Improper Exhibition of a Firearm
Concealed Carry Laws Strategic Defense for Weapon-Involved Offenses
Defend Against Weapon Display Allegations Discharge of Firearm in Public
Motion for Return of Firearm Furnishing Weapons to Minors
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon Altering a Firearm’s Serial Number
Using a Firearm While Under the Influence Discharging Any Destructive Device
Possession of Short-Barreled Rifle Making a Fake Bomb Threat
Threat to Discharge Destructive Device Reckless Discharge of a Firearm

Top-Rated Firearms Lawyers Serving Florida

Looking for the best Firearms lawyers in Florida? Our distinguished team of attorneys is committed to offering you the best possible defense against your Firearms charges.

  • John Vallillo: As a stalwart in the Florida legal scene, John Vallillo has earned his stripes through a consistent record of case dismissals and proactive defense. His background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney enriches his strategic defense planning with invaluable insights.
  • Joe Easton: Renowned for crafting winning defenses, Joe Easton’s approach to legal advocacy in Florida combines thorough preparation with aggressive representation. His notable recognitions and ratings stand testament to his exceptional service and client-focused approach.
  • Joel Leppard: Joel Leppard infuses every Firearms case with a level of personal commitment and innovative thinking that sets him apart. His leadership has not only grown Leppard Law into a top-rated criminal defense law firm but also ensured that clients receive empathetic, effective legal care.