NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS

03 Oct 23

Unlicensed Carrying of a Concealed Firearm in Florida: Penalties and Defense

| by

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

Unlicensed Carrying of a Concealed Firearm in Florida: Penalties and Defense

In Florida, it is generally legal for citizens to own firearms – however, carrying a concealed firearm without the proper license is illegal. This article will explain the laws around unlicensed concealed carry in Florida, the penalties you may face, and possible defenses.

What is Considered “Carrying a Concealed Firearm” in Florida?

Under Florida law, carrying a concealed firearm is defined as knowingly carrying a firearm on your person that is hidden from the ordinary sight of another person

1

. To be charged with this crime, the prosecution must prove the following three elements

2

:

  • The defendant knowingly carried a firearm on or about their person
  • The firearm was concealed from ordinary sight
  • The defendant did not have a valid concealed carry license at the time

The firearm does not need to be completely hidden – if any part of it is visible and identifiable as a firearm, it does not meet the ‘concealed’ requirement

1

. However, the firearm does need to be close to your person – having an unloaded firearm hidden in your car, for example, does not qualify as ‘carrying’

1

.

Penalties for Unlicensed Concealed Carry in Florida

Carrying a concealed firearm without a license is generally a third degree felony in Florida

3

. The potential penalties if convicted include:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to 5 years probation
  • Fines up to $5,000

The penalties can be even more severe if you have prior felony convictions – a second degree felony charge is possible in that case, with up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000

5

. Prosecutors frequently seek significant jail/prison time for concealed carry offenses

1

.

When is Concealed Carry Legal Without a License in Florida?

There are some exceptions where you can legally carry a concealed firearm without a license in Florida

2

:

  • At your home or business
  • While engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or camping activities
  • For the first 48 hours of a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of emergency

You can also carry an unloaded, concealed firearm in your private vehicle if it is securely encased and not readily accessible (e.g. in a closed console or container) 

1

. These exceptions only apply to the concealed carry license requirement – certain persons like convicted felons are still prohibited from possessing firearms.

Possible Defenses to Unlicensed Concealed Carry Charges

If you have been charged with unlicensed concealed carry, there are defenses an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to raise on your behalf

1
4

:

  • Lack of possession/control – the prosecution cannot prove you actually possessed the firearm
  • Lack of knowledge – the prosecution cannot prove you knowingly carried the firearm
  • Not concealed – the firearm was partially or fully visible to others
  • Secure encasement – the firearm was unloaded and securely encased in your vehicle
  • Lawful activity exception – you were engaged in hunting, fishing, camping, or other lawful activity
  • Unlawful arrest – you were arrested solely based on the presence of a firearm without other evidence of a crime
  • Invalid search – the search that revealed the firearm was unlawful and the evidence should be suppressed
  • Self-defense – you only carried the firearm briefly for self-defense purposes
  • Concealed carry license – you did in fact have a valid Florida concealed carry license
  • Misidentification – the prosecution has the wrong person and you did not commit this crime

An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the details of your case and determine if any of these defenses may apply.

Concealed Carry License Requirements in Florida

While there are penalties for unlicensed concealed carry, you can carry a concealed firearm legally if you obtain a concealed carry license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

2

. To be eligible, you must

2

:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
  • Be 21 years old or older
  • Have no physical disabilities that would prevent safe handling of a firearm
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Not be a habitual offender

Florida will recognize valid concealed carry licenses issued by other states as well. Even with a license, there are restrictions on where you can carry concealed firearms in Florida – for example, courtrooms, schools, airports, and other restricted areas

5

.

Conclusion

While Florida law allows firearm ownership, carrying a concealed weapon without a proper license can lead to felony charges and severe penalties if convicted. There are exceptions for certain lawful activities and home/business possession. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you on the laws in your area and defend your rights if you face charges. With an in-depth understanding of Florida’s concealed carry laws and possible defenses, a lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t hesitate to consult an attorney if you have been arrested for unlicensed concealed carry.

References

1

 https://www.husseinandwebber.com/crimes/weapons-crimes/carrying-a-concealed-firearm/

2

 https://www.criminalattorneymelbournefl.com/criminal-defense/gun-weapon-charges/carrying-a-concealed-weapon/

3

 https://www.727defense.com/concealed-weapon-arrests/

4

 https://swiateklaw.com/florida-crimes/unlicensed-carrying-of-concealed-weapons-or-firearms-in-fl/

5

 https://www.goldmanwetzel.com/blog/concealed-carry-laws-in-florida/

6

 https://brycefetter.com/practice-areas/firearm-weapons-charges-lawyer/unlawful-carrying-a-concealed-weapon-in-florida/