NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm
Selling or Giving a Firearm to a Minor in Florida: Laws, Penalties and Defense
Giving a firearm as a gift or selling one to a minor in Florida can be legal, but there are important laws and restrictions to follow. While the legal age to purchase a firearm in Florida is 21, that age limit does not apply to receiving a firearm as a gift. However, gifting or selling guns to minors still comes with regulations for both the giver and receiver. Failure to adhere to Florida’s laws on furnishing weapons to minors can result in serious criminal penalties.This article will cover key things to know about transferring firearms to minors in Florida, including:
- Laws on giving or selling guns to minors
- Penalties for illegally providing firearms
- Legal exceptions that allow minors to possess guns
- Potential defenses if accused of illegally furnishing weapons
Laws Restricting Providing Firearms to Minors in Florida
Florida has laws prohibiting both licensed firearms dealers and non-dealers from providing weapons to minors in most circumstances. The main statutes governing this issue are:
- Florida Statute 790.17 – Furnishing weapons to minors or persons of unsound mind prohibited
- Florida Statute 790.18 – Sale or transfer of arms to minors by dealers prohibited
Restrictions for Non-Licensed Sellers
Under Fla. Stat. 790.17, it is generally illegal for an unlicensed individual to give, lend, transfer, sell, or barter any weapon or electric weapon to a minor. This law also prohibits providing firearms or weapons to someone who is of “unsound mind.”To be convicted under this statute, prosecutors must prove:
- The defendant lent, gave, sold, transferred or bartered a weapon or electric weapon
- The recipient was a minor or a person of unsound mind
- The minor’s parents did not consent (if applicable)
Violating this law is a first-degree misdemeanor if the weapon was a firearm, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. It becomes a third-degree felony with harsher penalties if the weapon provided was a firearm.
Restrictions for Licensed Firearm Dealers
Under Fla. Stat. 790.18, licensed firearms dealers in Florida are prohibited from transferring or selling weapons to minors.To be convicted under this statute, prosecutors must prove:
- The defendant was a licensed firearms dealer operating their business for profit
- The defendant sold or transferred a firearm
- The recipient was a minor
Violating this law is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The penalties are harsher for dealers given their presumed knowledge of the law.
Penalties for Illegally Transferring Guns to Minors
The potential criminal penalties for violating Florida’s laws on providing firearms to minors depend on your status as a licensed dealer or not. They include:For non-licensed, private sellers:
- Providing a firearm to a minor – third-degree felony, up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine
- Providing a weapon (non-firearm) to a minor – first-degree misdemeanor, up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine
For licensed firearms dealers:
- Selling or transferring a firearm to a minor – second-degree felony, up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 fine
If convicted of illegally providing a firearm to a minor, the court will also order forfeiture of the weapon involved. You may also face restrictions on future firearm purchases or possession after a conviction.
Exceptions Allowing Minors to Possess Firearms
While Florida strictly regulates providing guns to minors, there are exceptions that allow lawful possession in certain circumstances.Under Fla. Stat. 790.22, minors under 18 may possess firearms without parental consent at their home in these situations:
- When engaged in lawful hunting activities (if over 16 or supervised if under 16)
- When engaged in recreational sport shooting (if over 16 or supervised if under 16)
- When transporting an unloaded firearm to or from lawful recreational activities
Minors may also possess firearms to participate in marksmanship training at school, for military activities, for instructional purposes, and when competing in shooting sports events.Additionally, minors can legally possess firearms when under the supervision of their parents, guardians, or instructors. The firearm must still be unloaded if the minor is under the age of 16.
Defenses to Charges of Illegally Providing Guns
If you are accused of illegally providing a firearm to a minor in Florida, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical. An attorney can evaluate the specifics of your case and advise you on the best defense strategies.Here are some potential defenses that could apply:
- You did not actually “provide” the firearm – For example, if the minor took your gun without your knowledge or consent.
- The minor had parental consent – If the minor’s parent or guardian consented to you providing the firearm, this may negate any violation.
- You reasonably believed the recipient was over 18 – If you made a reasonable mistake and did not knowingly provide a gun to a minor, this could potentially defend against criminal charges.
- The minor legally possessed the gun under an exception – As outlined above, if the minor’s possession fell under one of the lawful exceptions, you may not have committed a crime.
- You are exempt from prosecution – Certain people, like law enforcement officers, are exempt from Florida’s laws on providing firearms to minors.
- There are issues with the prosecution’s evidence – If you can show flaws in the evidence against you, it may lead to an acquittal or charges being dropped.
While gifting or selling a firearm to a minor is not automatically illegal in Florida, strict laws still apply. It is crucial to understand the regulations, exceptions, penalties, and defenses before providing guns to someone under 18. Consult an attorney if you have been accused of illegally furnishing firearms to a minor – an experienced lawyer can protect your rights and build the strongest case in your defense. Handling these types of criminal allegations on your own is not advised.