West Palm Beach, FL Firearms Defense Attorney
Tenacious, Dedicated Lawyer Protecting Your Firearms Rights
If you are charged with the unlawful possession, use, or display of a firearm or weapon in Florida, you could face serious prison time. Gun crimes are treated very seriously in this state because rising crime levels, particularly with the rise in gun violence, have led to reactionary legislation in an effort to curtail violence. Although citizens have the constitutional right to bear arms per the Second Amendment, Florida has imposed certain laws regarding the possession and use of weapons and firearms to ensure citizens own and use weapons without harming others in the community unlawfully. As a result, these laws make some uses of weapons and firearms a criminal offense.
Thousands of arrests occur annually in Florida for weapons possession, carrying offenses and other related conduct. You could be looking at several years in prison if you are convicted of such weapons-related crimes. So, it is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense lawyer to aid in your legal defense. A good firearm defense lawyer could raise viable defenses to help you avoid Florida’s increasingly severe penalties. For example, the state’s Stand Your Ground Law and other self-defense trial strategies may come into play in your particular case. Attorney Nellie L. King has handled such cases before, and she will work hard to fight for your rights and strategize your legal defense.
Florida Gun and Weapon Laws
Owning a firearm is not against the law in Florida if you have the paperwork and licensing required. If you do not possess legal paperwork for owning a firearm, however, you could be looking at criminal charges and jail or prison time.
More specifically, in an effort to “get tough on crime,” Florida’s 10-20-LIFE law mandates minimum prison terms for those who commit crimes with weapons. One of the toughest gun-crimes laws in the nation, this statute requires minimum prison terms for weapons charges to be served consecutively (not at the same time) to any other prison terms imposed for crimes committed. Portions of the 10-20-LIFE weapons statute impose these minimum prison sentences:
- Felonies or attempted felonies with a firearm: minimum 10 years in state prison;
- Crimes where the firearm was discharged: minimum 20 years in state prison;
- Crimes committed with a firearm where someone was injured or killed: minimum 25 years to life in state prison; and
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon: minimum 3 years in state prison.
Note that if you have been arrested for another crime, such as aggravated battery, burglary, or a sex crime, and you are in possession of a weapon, your sentence can be significantly enhanced due to felony sentencing reclassification.
Common Weapons Charges in Florida
The Law Offices of Nellie L. King, P.A. has handled multiple types of weapons charges commonly prosecuted in Florida. Some common charges include:
- Armed robbery
- Armed burglary
- Carrying a concealed weapon: if you carry your weapon or firearm in public and do not have a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)
- Gun trafficking: a state and/or federal offense involving the smuggling of illicit weapons or guns
- Improper exhibition of a weapon: if you display a weapon in the presence of another person in a rude, careless, threatening, or angry manner that is not self-defense
- Possession of a weapon on school grounds: if someone carrying a firearm on school grounds or within 1,000 feet of school grounds during school hours or scheduled school activities
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon: if someone carrying a firearm is a convicted felon in Florida or a convicted felon outside of Florida, and the offense carried a possible punishment of 1 year or more in prison
- Unlawful discharge of a weapon
Obtaining a Concealed Weapons License in Florida
Certain citizens are permitted to carry concealed weapons. By law, a person is eligible for a concealed weapons license in Florida if they meet the following requirements:
- A United States resident and citizen or permanent resident
- At least 21 years old
- Does not suffer from a physical disability preventing the safe handling of a weapon
- Is not a convicted felon ineligible to possess a firearm
- Has not been committed for controlled substance abuse for the 3 years prior to application
- Does not habitually use alcohol or controlled substances
- Desires to carry a weapon for self-defense
- Has displayed competence with a firearm
- Is not legally incapacitated
- Has not been committed to a mental institution for the 5 years prior to application
- Has not been found guilty of a domestic violence crime and has met all sentencing requirements for the 3 years prior to application
- Has not been enjoined from committing acts of domestic violence
- Is not prohibited from possessing or purchasing a weapon under any other Florida or federal law
Penalties for Weapons Charges in Florida
A conviction for carrying a concealed weapon that is not a firearm and a conviction for improper exhibition of a weapon are both misdemeanors of the first degree, which can result in imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or fines up to $1,000.
Carrying a concealed Weapon that is a firearm and possession of a weapon on school grounds are both felonies of the third degree. This could mean state prison time for up to 5 years and/or fines not exceeding $5,000.
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second-degree felony, unless the felony is gang-related, which could mean more severe punishment. Felonies of the second degree involve state prison time up to 15 years and fines of up to $10,000.
Defenses Against Weapons Charges in West Palm Beach, FL
If you are charged with certain weapons offenses, there are key defense strategies your attorney may employ to have your charge dropped or reduced. Some examples include arguing:
- “Stand Your Ground” and other applicable self-defense laws.
- Right to carry a concealed weapon when the firearm is encased in a holster in a closed glove compartment or closed console of your car. (Note that you are not required to have a Concealed Weapons Permit if your gun is in either of these places).
- No improper exhibition of a weapon because the person did not brandish the weapon in a threatening manner or in a way that imposed an unreasonable risk of injury to others.
- Legal possession of a weapon on school grounds because you are authorized to do so, such as those who are enrolled in an authorized firearms program or class or persons possessing a Concealed Weapons Permit.
- A convicted felon has had their civil rights and privilege to possess a firearm restored.
Finding Holes in the Prosecutor’s Case Against You
No two cases are alike, so a competent and experienced West Palm Beach firearms defense lawyer will take the time to review the details of your case and look for holes in the prosecutor’s case against you.
For example, you may have been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. The prosecutor will have to prove that you had the weapon on your person and that you knew it was there. If the weapon was found in your car, they will also have to prove that you were aware that it was there. If the prosecutor cannot prove all these elements, then you may be able to get the charges against you dropped.
Another example is if you are charged with using a weapon in the commission of a crime. The prosecutor will have to prove that you actually used the weapon during the crime. If you did not use the weapon, or if you didn’t even have it on your person during the crime, then you cannot be convicted of this charge.
For any accusation or charge related to firearms, a criminal defense attorney will be looking at the finer details to determine if there are any holes in the prosecutor’s case. Overall, these could include:
- Illegal search and seizure: If the police did not have a warrant or probable cause to search you or your property, then any evidence they found as a result of that search cannot be used against you in court.
- Lack of evidence: If the prosecutor does not have any witnesses or physical evidence to back up their claims, then they may not be able to prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Mistaken identity: If there is a possibility that you could have been misidentified as the person who committed the crime, then you may be able to get the charges against you dropped.
These are just a few examples of the types of holes that a West Palm Beach firearms defense lawyer will look for in the prosecutor’s case against you. If your attorney can find any of these holes, then they may be able to get the charges against you dropped or reduced.
The Value of a Competent and Experienced West Palm Beach Firearms Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime involving a firearm, you must contact a competent and experienced West Palm Beach firearms defense lawyer as soon as possible. Some of the most common benefits of hiring an attorney include:
- Having someone in your corner: When you are facing criminal charges, it can feel like you are up against the world. But if you have a dedicated West Palm Beach attorney on your side, you will have someone who is fighting for you and looking out for your best interests. This refreshing perspective can be invaluable during this difficult time.
- Improving your chances of a favorable outcome: If you try to navigate the criminal justice system on your own, your chances of achieving a favorable outcome are slim. This is because the average citizen does not know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system like an experienced lawyer does. When you have a lawyer on your side, you will have a much better chance of getting the charges against you dropped or reduced.
- Protecting your rights: When you are facing criminal charges, it is easy to feel like you have no rights. But that is not the case. You still have certain rights, and it is important that you have someone on your side who knows what those rights are and how to protect them. For example, suppose the police try to question you without reading you your Miranda rights. In that case, your attorney can step in and stop the questioning or bring up the fact that your rights were violated during trial and dismiss some of the evidence against you.
- Strong negotiation skills: In many cases, the best way to resolve a criminal case is through negotiation. The back and forth of negotiation can be complex and confusing, but it presents an opportunity to reach a resolution that is more favorable than what you would receive if you went to trial. Having a creative and experienced West Palm Beach firearms defense lawyer on your side can give you a much better chance of negotiating a favorable outcome.
What Characteristics Should You Look for in a Firearms Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL?
When you are looking for a West Palm Beach attorney to represent you, it is important that you find someone who has the experience and skills necessary to get the job done. Some of the qualities that you should look for in an attorney include:
- Experience: It is important that you find an attorney who has experience handling firearms cases. This experience will give them the knowledge and skills necessary to better serve your case.
- Competence: In addition to experience, you must find an attorney who is competent. This means that they should be able to effectively communicate with you, keep you updated on the status of your case, and answer any questions that you may have.
- Creativity: The best attorneys are creative thinkers who can produce outside-the-box solutions to complex problems. This creativity will come in handy when it comes to negotiating with the prosecutor or finding holes in the prosecution’s case.
- Compassion: Dealing with criminal charges can be a very stressful and emotional experience. It is important that you find an attorney who is compassionate and understanding. This compassion will help them better relate to you and your situation and fight harder on your behalf.
- Aggressiveness: While you want a compassionate attorney, you also want someone who is aggressive. An aggressive attorney is more likely to take the fight to the prosecution and push for a favorable outcome in your case.
- Savvy: You want an attorney who is savvy. This means that they should be up to date on the latest changes in the law and know how to use these changes to your advantage. This also infers that they should be well-connected and able to utilize their resources to benefit your case. To assess an attorney’s savvy, you can look at their track record and see how they have fared in similar cases.
Contact a Weapons Attorney in West Palm Beach, FL
Attorney Nellie L. King, P.A. handles all instances of firearm possession and weapons charges. Justice prevails when there are advocates like her who are knowledgeable, passionate, and unashamed to ardently defend the Constitution and those accused of a crime. This is what you can expect when you work with the Law Offices of Nellie L. King, P.A., and you can be assured she will develop a personalized defense to fight for your rights.