NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm
Can You Own a Gun with a Misdemeanor in Florida?
Having any criminal record can get confusing when it comes to your gun ownership rights. What about misdemeanors – can you still legally own firearms in Florida if you have a misdemeanor conviction?
The answer is usually yes, with some exceptions. Let’s take a detailed look at the laws and restrictions around misdemeanor convictions and gun ownership in Florida.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
First, it’s important to understand the difference between misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are more serious crimes punishable by over a year in prison. Misdemeanors are minor crimes with maximum jail sentences of one year.
So in most cases, misdemeanors have less impact on your legal rights than felonies. But there are still some misdemeanors that can restrict gun ownership.
Federal vs. State Law
Both federal and state laws come into play when looking at misdemeanors and firearms in Florida. Federal law prohibits possession of firearms by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
This includes misdemeanors like assault, battery, or stalking of a current or former spouse, cohabitant partner, or someone you share a child with. These carry a lifetime federal firearm ban.
Florida State Law
Under Florida law, state misdemeanor convictions prohibit gun possession if you were sentenced to jail for over a year. So high-level misdemeanors can affect state gun rights.
Domestic violence misdemeanors and stalking convictions also result in a 3-year state ban on firearm possession in Florida.
Other Restricted Misdemeanors
Additionally, the following types of misdemeanor convictions have firearm restrictions in Florida:
- Resisting arrest with violence
- Various drug and drug paraphernalia offenses
- Providing false information when purchasing a firearm
- Disorderly conduct
The time periods of the bans vary between 3 to 15 years for these misdemeanor offenses.
What About Juvenile Misdemeanors?
Juvenile misdemeanor records that have been sealed or expunged do not prohibit firearm possession. But unsealed juvenile misdemeanors can still affect your gun rights.
Domestic battery and stalking misdemeanors as a minor result in federal and state bans until age 24.
Seeking Relief from Disability
If prohibited due to a misdemeanor, you may petition for “relief from firearms disabilities” after 1-5 years, depending on the offense. This restores your gun rights if approved.
But relief is difficult to obtain and not guaranteed. An attorney can guide you through the process and compile supporting evidence.
Pardons Also Restore Gun Rights
If you receive a pardon from the Florida Clemency Board, including pardons for misdemeanors, your gun rights are fully restored.
However, pardons are very rare and difficult to obtain in Florida.
Having your record expunged may remove firearm disabilities and restore your gun rights, with some exceptions. Speak to an attorney about expungement options.
Federal domestic violence misdemeanors still prohibit guns federally even if expunged under state law.
What About Out-of-State Misdemeanors?
Misdemeanors in other states may still prohibit you from owning guns in Florida. Federal domestic violence misdemeanors apply nationwide.
For other misdemeanors, Florida may treat out-of-state convictions as equivalent state prohibitions. Check with an attorney to be sure.
Limits on Ammunition
Even if you can legally possess firearms, state and federal laws may restrict purchasing or possessing ammunition with certain misdemeanor convictions.
Domestic battery, drug offenses, and some juvenile misdemeanors can result in ammunition restrictions.
Some non-criminal adjudications can also lead to firearm prohibitions, like involuntary mental health commitments. Protective orders may also limit gun possession.
Always consult an attorney before purchasing or possessing guns if you have any past case history at all.
Seeking Legal Counsel
As you can see, the interplay between federal, state, and local laws around misdemeanors and firearms can get very complex. That’s why speaking with a qualified attorney is so important.
A lawyer can review your specific criminal history and advise if any convictions prohibit you from purchasing or possessing guns under Florida statutes.
They can also guide you through record expungement, pardons, disability relief, and restoring your gun rights if prohibited.
Avoid Future Prohibitions
The best advice is to avoid any new criminal convictions going forward. Even minor new misdemeanors can create further firearm disabilities.
If you do get arrested or charged, speak to an attorney immediately to avoid a conviction that could impact your gun rights.
Seeking Relief Takes Time
Restoring gun rights after a disabling misdemeanor takes time. The required waiting periods range from 1-5 years in most cases before you can petition the court or apply for a pardon.
So if prohibited, start the process as soon as possible. An attorney can let you know when you become eligible and guide you through the required steps.
I know this can be a complex issue – the interplay of federal, state and local laws on misdemeanors and firearms is not always intuitive. Please let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help explain your options.
The bottom line is some misdemeanors prohibit guns, some don’t, and an attorney can advise you on your specific situation. With proper legal guidance, many with misdemeanors can still exercise their gun rights.