Felon in Possession of Firearm
One of the unfortunate consequences of being convicted of a felony is that the defendant loses their legal right to possess a gun. This is true despite the general provision of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting citizens the right to bear arms. If you have been previously convicted of a felony and have recently been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, you need a strong defense if you are to avoid or minimize the harsh punishment triggered by a conviction of this offense. Knowledgeable Tampa gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law has been defending people accused of criminal activity in the Tampa Bay area for over two decades, and he is here to help you explore your legal options if you have been arrested or believe that you may be under investigation on a weapons charge.
The crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm is set forth in Florida Statutes § 790.23. This statute takes a broad approach to both the term “felon” and the term “firearm.” Under Florida law, a felon is not only a person convicted of a felony by the State of Florida but also a person who has been convicted of a felony in a sister state, a foreign country, or a territory. Convictions in federal court are also included. Even a juvenile adjudication of delinquency may count as a felony conviction if the particular delinquent act in question would have been considered a felony if it were committed by an adult.
The statute makes it unlawful for a felon or delinquent not only to own a firearm but also to merely have a firearm in their care, custody, possession, or control. For the purposes of the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm, not only obvious firearms such as handguns or rifles are prohibited but also ammunition, electronic weapons or devices, tear gas guns, and chemical weapons or devices.Possible Defenses to a Charge of Illegal Possession of a Weapon
The statute contains a few exceptions to the general prohibition against felons not being allowed to lawfully possess a weapon. These exceptions include situations in which the defendant’s civil rights and firearm authority have been restored or in which the defendant’s criminal record has been expunged. In addition to these statutory defenses, the defendant may have another defense that would act to defeat the intent element of the crime or prevent the State from introducing certain evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional right to due process or freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Without this evidence, the State may be unable to meet its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is critical that a defendant accused of being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm make use of every possible defense because the consequences of a conviction may be very harsh. Depending upon the defendant’s previous criminal history, a felon convicted of possessing a firearm may be found guilty of either a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony. In some cases, a conviction under § 790.23 may result in a sentence of life imprisonment under Florida’s 10-20-Life Statute.Talk to a Gun Crime Lawyer in the Tampa Area
An arrest, indictment, or investigation may be frightening and unsettling, but it does not always result in a conviction. In many cases, there are defenses available to the defendant that may help lead to an acquittal or a reduction in the charges lodged by the State. Tampa attorney Will Hanlon can help defend Florida residents against many different types of charges related to weapons. Call us at 813-228-7095 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. He also can assist people who need a domestic violence lawyer or representation in cases involving drug offenses, sex offenses, theft, and other crimes.