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Gun / Firearm / Ammunition / Weapons Charges

Weapon charge lawyer in Tallahassee

Both the Second Amendment and Section 8 of the State Constitution of Florida guarantee the right to keep and bear arms. Previously, Floridians were allowed to carry concealed firearms or weapons in most places so long as they obtained a concealed weapons license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Failure to obtain a concealed weapons license and getting caught with a firearm in a person’s possession would previously result in criminal charges. Even in cases where a defendant had no criminal intent, they may have faced serious penalties if convicted.

However, the state of Florida drastically changed its laws regarding concealed carry in 2023. As of July 1st, 2023, Florida will be considered a “permit-less carry” state. Although the state has kept the system for issuing permits, those who wish to carry a concealed weapon or firearm will no longer be required to go through a background check or safety training beforehand.

With the newest changes in the law, it is imperative that both Florida and non-Florida residents become familiar with the requirements and penalties for failure to abide by the law. 

Tallahassee Gun Crime Attorney

If you were arrested for the alleged unlicensed carrying of a concealed firearm or weapon in Florida before the new “permit-less carry” law went into effect, you should reach out to a defense attorney in your area as soon as possible.  Pumphrey Law Firm can answer any questions you have regarding the recent law changes, and how to fight to get any additional criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.

Our Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys serve communities throughout Taylor County, Madison County, Leon County, Jackson County, Gulf County, and Calhoun County. Call (850) 681-7777 or submit an online contact form right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyers review your case.


Florida Definitions of Weapon & Firearms

Florida Statute Section 790.001 defines each type of weapon and firearm under Florida law.

A “concealed weapon” is defined as any of the following:

  • Dirk
  • Metallic knuckles
  • Billie
  • Tear gas gun
  • Chemical weapon or device; or
  • Any other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in a way to conceal the weapon from ordinary sight.

A “firearm” is defined as any weapon that:

  • Is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
  • The frame or receiver of any such weapon;
  • Any firearm muffler or silencer;
  • Any destructive device; or
  • Any machine gun.

A “concealed firearm” means any firearm which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.

Previous Requirements & Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Prior to HB 543 passing, any person who wished to carry a concealed gun in Florida was required to first obtain a concealed carry permit. Failure to obtain a concealed carry license resulted in the following penalties:

Florida Statute Section 790.01 previously established two different level offenses for unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms:

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor – If an alleged offender carries a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on or about his or her person; or
  • Third-Degree Felony – If an alleged offender carries a concealed firearm on or about his or her person.

The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

The penalties for a third-degree felony in Florida include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Under Florida Statute Section 790.01(3), the penalties are exempted for individuals who carry concealed weapons on or about their person while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the governor or a local authority. The phrase “in the act of evacuating” is defined as the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered, although the 48-hour period can be extended by an order issued by the governor.

Additional exemptions are for those who carry any of the following devices for purposes of lawful self-defense in a concealed manner:

  • Self-defense chemical spray;
  • Nonlethal stun gun;
  • Dart-firing stun gun; or
  • Other nonlethal electric weapons or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.

 HB 543

On April 3rd, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 543 titled “Public Safety” into law. HB 543 now allows certain individuals who meet the criteria to carry a concealed weapon or firearm without the previously required permit and identification displayed upon law enforcement’s demand. The law will also prohibit those without concealed permits from carrying a weapon or firearm in specified areas. Non-Florida residents will be eligible to carry a concealed weapon or firearm, as long as they meet the same resident requirements. In addition, the Office of Safe Schools will be required to establish behavioral threat management operational processes.

The requirements for a permitless concealed weapon or firearm include the following:

  1. Must be at least 21-years-old;
  2. No disqualifying convictions relating to violent crimes, drug abuse, or misdemeanor charges for domestic violence;
  3. Has no prior history of drug or alcohol abuse, commitment to a mental health institution, or dishonorable discharge from military services.

Any person who does not fit the qualifying characteristics for a permitless concealed weapon or firearm and is caught in the possession of any firearm, electronic weapon or device, destructive device, or other weapons can now be charged with a third-degree felony.

Where Can’t You Take a Concealed Weapon or Firearm?

Under HB 543, there are still specified places where a person’s ability to carry a lawfully owned firearm is restricted. The prohibited places include the following:

  • Any law enforcement, sheriff, or highway patrol station;
  • Any courthouse, courtroom, or polling place;
  • Any school or college even unrelated to firearms;
  • Any elementary school, secondary school, university, university facility, or school administrative building;
  • Any establishment where the main purpose of sales is alcohol; or
  • Any additional space where federal law prohibits carrying a firearm.

Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the law by bringing a concealed weapon into a prohibited place can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

School Zones

Under the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act, there are strict laws on possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school in Florida. Any person who violates the law and knowingly possesses a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone can be charged with a third-degree felony in Florida. Exemptions to the 1,000 prohibition include:

  • Possessing an unloaded and locked firearm in a container or secured to a vehicle rack;
  • Possessing a concealed carry permit from Florida; or
  • Possessing a firearm on private property if it falls within 1,000 feet of a school.

With the permitless carry law going into effect in July, it may present challenges to determine how it will coincide with the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act. This is due to the exemption for those to carry a concealed firearm within 1,000 feet of a school if they obtain a permit. Once the state is permitless, it could cause confusion over the specific places where firearms are legally allowed.

Any person who is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under HB 543 but willfully and knowingly brings any firearm, electronic weapon or device, destructive device, or other weapons within 1,000 feet of any school can face a second-degree misdemeanor.

As stated under HB 543, any person who exhibits any of the following in a careless, angry, or threatening manner, not including self-defense, at a school-sponsored event or on school grounds or within 1,000 feet of any school can face a third-degree felony

  • Sword
  • Sword cane
  • Firearm
  • Electronic weapon or device
  • Destructive device
  • Razor blade
  • Box cutter
  • Pocket knife

The penalties for a third-degree felony in Florida include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Who Can Buy a Firearm in Florida?

Despite the changes made under HB 543, the same rules apply for those who wish to purchase a firearm in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the following requirements must be met before     purchasing a firearm:

  • Must be 21-years-old, unless the person is a law enforcement or correctional officer;
  • Must be a Florida resident to purchase a handgun, but non-residents can purchase ‘long guns’ so long as the sale complies with applicable laws in the purchaser’s state of residence;
  • If not a Florida resident, then the person must provide a valid alien registration number or border crossing number; and
  • Waiting period of three days between the purchase and delivery of firearm(s).

Under 18 U.S. Code § 922, the following individuals are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm:

  • Convicted person of a felony offense;
  • Fugitive from justice;
  • Unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance;
  • Adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment;
  • Illegal alien;
  • Dishonorable discharge from U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Renounced U.S. citizenship;
  • Active protection order (restraining order, injunction for protection, etc.);
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense; or
  • Under indictment for a felony offense.

In addition, Florida law also prohibits the following individuals from purchasing a firearm:

  • Adjudicated delinquent of a crime that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult until 24 years of age or the record is expunged;
  • Received “Adjudication Withheld” on any felony or misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence within the last three years; or
  • Was recently arrested for a potentially disqualifying crime that has yet to be disposed of or dismissed in court.

What if I Still Want a Concealed Carry Permit?

Although the state will no longer require it, you can still receive a concealed carry permit. Under Florida Statute Section 790.06, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is authorized to issue a concealed carry permit for those who fit the qualifiers under the same provisions to purchase a firearm, in addition to demonstrating competence with a firearm by any of the following:

  • Completion of any hunter education or safety course by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission;
  • Completion of any National Rifle Association firearms training or safety course;
  • Completion of any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public by law enforcement, firearms training school, or any other school or college that uses certified instructors;
  • Completion of law enforcement firearms safety or training course offered to security guards, investigators, or any law enforcement division;
  • Presents evidence of experience with a firearm through organized shooting competitions or military service;
  • Is licensed or has been licensed to carry a firearm in this state or county; or
  • Completion of any firearms training conducted by a state-certified firearms instructor.

To find out more about concealed carry permits in Florida, you can review the Application Information on the FDACS’s website here.

Find a Carrying a Concealed Weapon Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

Have you been charged with unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon or firearm? With HB 543 going into effect July 1st, 2023, your case may be dropped or dismissed due to the law change. However, it is imperative that you first contact a skilled defense attorney to discuss the specific details of your case. Pumphrey Law Firm works tirelessly to achieve the most favorable outcome for people facing all kinds of firearm and weapon charges.

Our Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys represent clients in Wewahitchka, Port St. Joe, Graceville, Perry, Marianna, Malone, Blountstown, and many other communities in Northern Florida. Contact our office today and receive a completely free review of your case during a consultation as soon as you call (850) 681-7777 or complete an online contact form.


Page updated June 15, 2023

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