Improper Exhibition of Firearm or Deadly Weapon

Attorney Helping St. Petersburg and Clearwater Residents Facing Gun Charges

While Americans enjoy a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the State of Florida places numerous restrictions on gun ownership and the use of weapons. People who run afoul of these laws face numerous consequences, including the possibility of jail time, fines, and the permanent loss of the privilege of possessing a firearm. If you have been arrested on a gun crime charge, such as the improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon, you need to defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law. A conviction can result in many repercussions in addition to incarceration for the offense charged, especially if the offense is considered a felony. St. Petersburg and Clearwater gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon can help you investigate the circumstances of your arrest and alleged offense, evaluate the strength of the State’s case against you, and formulate a defense strategy aimed at protecting your future.

The crime of “improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms” is set forth in Florida Statutes § 790.10. Under this statute, a person who has or carries certain types of weapons in the presence of at least one other person can be found guilty of a misdemeanor if they exhibit the weapon in a “rude, careless, angry, or threatening” manner rather than in “necessary self-defense.” A person found guilty of a violation of this statute faces punishment for a misdemeanor of the first degree, which, under Florida law, can result in a jail sentence not to exceed one year and a fine of up to $1,000. People who are convicted of a crime can also suffer collateral consequences, including difficulty with personal relationships, employment, and housing.

Defending Against a Weapons Charge Under Florida Law

Under the statute, only people who exhibit a “dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon, or device” are punishable under the law – and only if they show their weapon in a certain manner. Thus, one of the most effective ways to defeat a charge of improper exhibition of a firearm or another deadly weapon is to negate one or more of the elements that the State is required to prove or to argue that the State has failed to meet its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, if the “weapon” is not one specifically named in the statute, the defendant may be able to convince the court that they should not be punished under the statute. Of course, this is very dependent on the specific facts of the case. Obviously, a loaded handgun is a “firearm” that the statute is intended to cover, but there may be some room for interpretation as to other items.

Another option is to discredit the testimony of one or more witnesses who will be testifying on behalf of the prosecution that the defendant exhibited their weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner or that the defendant did not act in self-defense. There are two sides to every story, and it may be that the jury will not believe the State’s version of the case if the witness is inconsistent in their testimony, is biased in some way, or has other concerns clouding their credibility.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Gun Crime Attorney in the Clearwater or St. Petersburg Areas

Being accused of improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon is scary, but you do not need to go through this situation alone—and you should not go through it alone. Hiring a qualified attorney who can help you understand the intricacies of the legal process and advocate for your legal rights can make all of the difference. At Hanlon Law, Attorney Will Hanlon has been representing defendants in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Dade City, Newport Richey, and the surrounding cities for decades. Call us at 727-897-5413 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to talk about your case. We also help people who need a domestic violence lawyer or assistance in defending against charges of other violent crimes.