17 Oct 23

Can I Own a Gun if I Have a Felony in Florida?

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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm

Can I Own a Gun if I Have a Felony in Florida?

Having a felony conviction leads to losing many rights in Florida, including the right to possess firearms. The felony firearm prohibition is a lifetime ban under both state and federal laws. But there are limited exceptions that can allow gun ownership with a felony record.

Let’s take a detailed look at Florida’s laws concerning felons possessing firearms. We’ll cover the restrictions, penalties, and steps needed to potentially restore gun rights after a felony conviction.

Lifetime Ban Under Florida Law

Under Florida Statute 790.23, anyone convicted of a felony is permanently prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm of any kind, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc[1]. This lifetime ban applies to all felonies, ranging from drug possession to murder.

The prohibition restricts all types of firearms possession. You cannot purchase, transport, receive, or have custody of any firearms or ammunition.

Federal Prohibition Also Applies

In addition to Florida’s state law, federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(g) also permanently bars felons from possessing firearms or ammunition that have traveled in interstate commerce[2]. This covers the vast majority of guns and ammo.

So even if a state restored your rights, the federal prohibition still applies unless you receive a presidential pardon.

Penalties for Possession by a Felon

The crime of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Florida carries harsh penalties. It is a second degree felony punishable by[3]:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • At least 3 years mandatory minimum prison if previously convicted of this offense

Constructive vs. Actual Possession

Prosecutors don’t have to prove you physically possessed a gun. If you have knowledge of and access to a firearm, you can be charged with “constructive possession”[4].

For example, having a firearm in your home or vehicle can lead to charges, even if others had access to it.

Exceptions – Antique Firearms

One exception under Florida law is possession of an antique firearm manufactured before 1918. These don’t qualify as “firearms” for purposes of the prohibition[5].

However, antique guns still potentially violate federal law.

Restoring Gun Rights After a Felony

While difficult, it may be possible to regain the right to own guns after a Florida felony conviction through[6]:

  • Pardon from the governor’s clemency board
  • Petitioning for relief of firearms disability after 5 years
  • Having the conviction expunged or overturned
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Consult an attorney to determine if any of these options apply to your specific situation.

Seeking Expungement of Felony Charges

If arrested but never convicted of a felony, having the arrest record expunged may remove the federal prohibition. An attorney can advise if you qualify for expungement.