Improper Exhibition of Firearm or Deadly Weapon
The State of Florida takes a staunch approach on gun crimes, including the improper exhibition of a firearm or another deadly weapon. The overall effectiveness of the harsh penalties – including jail time and hefty fines – for criminalizing so many acts involving firearms remains to be seen. In the meantime, if you or a loved one is facing a charge of improper exhibition of a weapon, you need to assert any defenses that may be applicable in your particular case. As a seasoned Tampa gun crime lawyer, Will Hanlon has been assisting Florida residents with defending against a wide variety of weapons charges for many years. He can help you understand exactly what the State must prove in order for there to be a conviction and assert any defenses that you may have.
Under Florida Statutes § 791.10, it is a violation of the law for a person who is carrying a weapon to exhibit that weapon in the presence of others in a threatening manner. The weapon in question does not need to be a gun; it may be any type of firearm, an electric weapon or device, or even a sword. (Even sword canes and “dirks” – a type of dagger primarily used during hand-to-hand combat several centuries ago – are included in the statute.)
The statute outlaws any type of “rude, careless, angry, or threatening” exhibition of a weapon or firearm except in one particular situation: necessary self-defense. The State has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty of the crime of improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires that the jurors believe, within a degree of moral certainty, that the defendant is guilty as charged. It is a high standard of proof, and it is important to make sure that the prosecution is held to its full rigors.Aggressive Defense of a Weapons Charge Under Florida Law
As stated above, a defendant who exhibits a weapon in self-defense may be able to defeat an improper exhibition of a firearm charge under § 791.10. Although the State must still prove the elements of the crime, including intent and exhibition of an actual weapon, the defendant must provide evidence to the effect that their actions were reasonable and taken only to protect their own safety. The defendant’s actions must be proportionate to the perceived threat in order for self-defense to be a viable defense to a weapons charge. In addition to self-defense, the defendant may also be able to assert another defense like mistake-of-fact, necessity, or legal duty. There may also be the possibility of a motion in limine to exclude evidence obtained illegally due to an alleged violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as a confession given without a Miranda warning.
A conviction of the offense of improper exhibition of a firearm or other deadly weapon is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law. This may lead to a sentence of up to a year in jail, as well as fines and other penalties. Additionally, the defendant may have difficulty finding work or housing due to their criminal record. The conviction may also be used to enhance the defendant’s punishment if they are convicted of another crime in the future.Assert Your Rights with the Assistance of a Tampa Attorney
A criminal conviction, even on a misdemeanor charge, may have far-reaching consequences. Tampa lawyer Will Hanlon is experienced in defending many types of criminal cases, including those involving firearms and other weapons. Call us at 813-228-7095 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss a charge involving the alleged improper exhibition of a deadly weapon. The sooner that you call, the sooner that we can start doing everything that we can to help you explore all of the possible legal options for your defense. Hanlon Law also can represent people who are seeking a domestic violence lawyer or assistance in fighting charges of drug offenses, theft offenses, sex crimes, or other offenses.