Weapons Charge Reversed by Florida Court

Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. Many times the police, District Attorney, or other people involved in your case will make a mistake. Luckily, if you have a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney on your side they can advocate for you both before and during the court process. In this case, a man was charged with “possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon.” However, the appeals court in this case later overturned this conviction and sent it back to the lower court for a new trial.

Definition of Firearm

The defendant initially tried to argue that he should not be charged with this crime because it was a firearm and thus not a “weapon.” Therefore, he argued, if it is not a weapon it cannot be a “concealed weapon.” This argument has been successful in the second circuit, but this court – the Florida First District Court of Appeal – did not agree. They noted that Florida’s statute does define weapon as including guns.

“Possession vs. Carrying”

The defendant was successful on his other argument though. He noted that in his initial trial the jury was instructed to consider whether the defendant was guilty of “possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon.” However, this crime does not exist. The actual language that the court should have used is “carrying a concealed weapon by a felon.” This case revolves around the distinction between “carrying” and “possession.”

In Florida, “possession” is defined as having or exercising power or control over something. That means that you do not need to actually be holding something for it to count as possession. Generally, if something is within arm’s reach it can be considered to be in possession by the person nearby. However “carrying” has a slightly different definition. In order to carry something you need to have it in your hand or on your person. In other words, if you are carrying something you are also by definition in possession of it, though the converse is not necessarily true. You may be in possession of something because it is within your control, but that does not automatically mean you are carrying it.

It may seem like a minor distinction, but it was enough to get this defendant’s conviction overturned. The appeals court in this case noted that the jury found the defendant guilty of the non-existent crime of possession of a concealed weapon by a felon. This is a problem because it is unclear whether he was guilty of the actual crime that he was on trial for – carrying a concealed weapon by a felon. Since he could have been found in possession of the weapon without being found to be carrying it, the conviction was reversed. Thus, the case was remanded back to the lower court for a new trial on the actual charge.

Contact an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Every year there are people who are convicted of crimes they should not be. While mistakes may be made by the judge or other people involved in the court process, if you have a skilled attorney to help you they may be able to get your charges reduced or overturned because of the mistakes. The experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon law firm can be called at (727) 897-5413 or contacted online via the website. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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