Felon in Possession of Firearm
One of the consequences of a felony conviction is the loss of certain civil rights and liberties, including the right to possess a firearm. Under Florida law, people who have been convicted of a felony and who are later caught with a weapon face substantial penalties, even if they are not found guilty of a separate crime. If you have been arrested for the criminal offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm or believe that you may be under investigation for this or another offense, now is the time to talk to an attorney. It is very important that you speak with counsel before talking to the police. Trying to “talk your way out” of an arrest is extremely risky and rarely works out as you hope it will. Experienced St. Petersburg and Clearwater gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law can help you understand what the State must prove to convict you and can help you explore possible defenses that you may be able to use to defeat or reduce the charges against you.
Florida Statutes § 790.23 states that it is unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a felony to own or have the “care, custody, possession, or control” of a firearm. The felony conviction does not need to have taken place in a Florida court; a felony conviction in another state or in the federal court system also places a defendant within the purview of the statute. A finding of delinquency can also trigger the application of the statute in some circumstances.What Does it Mean to be a Felon in Possession of a Firearm?
To be prosecuted as a felon in possession of a firearm, the defendant does not need to have been in actual physical possession of a particular type of gun. The statute outlaws not only possession but also control or custody of “firearms, ammunition, or electric weapons or devices.” (This includes tear gas guns and chemical weapons or devices.) Thus, not only can someone who is caught with a firearm on their body or within reach be found guilty of the offense, but also someone who merely had the ability to control the weapon may be convicted.
Fortunately, there are some possible defenses to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon in Florida. First, if the defendant’s civil rights and authority to possess a firearm have been restored, they cannot be convicted under § 790.23. Likewise, if the defendant’s prior criminal record has been expunged, there can be no conviction under this section. However, other charges, including those related to Florida’s 10-20-Life Statute, could still apply if the defendant committed a separate crime while in possession of a firearm. Even if none of the statutory defenses apply, there may still be a defense under the U.S. Constitution, or the defendant may be able to negate one or more of the elements of the charge by discrediting a portion of the State’s evidence.Speak to an Experienced Criminal Attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg
A conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm is likely to trigger a lengthy period of incarceration, not to mention fines and other penalties. If you have been accused of violating Florida’s gun laws by having a weapon in your possession or control despite a previous felony conviction, it is very important that you retain an attorney who can give your case the full attention that it deserves. After all, your freedom and your future are at stake. To schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable criminal lawyer, call Hanlon Law today at 727.897.5413 or contact us online. We regularly represent defendants in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, Dade City, and the surrounding areas who are facing a wide range of felony and misdemeanor charges. We can assist you if you need an assault defense lawyer or advocacy against prosecution for other types of gun crimes or violent crimes.