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Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds

Weapon charge lawyer in Tallahassee

The increasing gun violence in Florida and at schools across the nation have led multiple states to enact restrictions on the possession of weapons and firearms on educational property. In Florida, possessing a weapon or discharging a firearm on or near school grounds is a criminal offense.

Due to the highly sensitive nature of these kinds of crimes, prosecutors will often seek the toughest possible punishments for alleged offenders. People can face these charges even when they have valid concealed weapons licenses. Due to Florida’s somewhat confusing stance on gun possession, it is extremely beneficial to hire a defense attorney to represent a firearms case. An experienced lawyer will review all the evidence against you, identify any inconsistencies in the State’s case, and establish a defense plan to fight at trial, if necessary. 

Lawyer for Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds in Tallahassee, FL

If you have been arrested for allegedly possessing a weapon or discharging a firearm on or near any kind of school property in Florida, you should seek legal representation right away. Pumphrey Law Firm works tirelessly to get criminal charges for alleged gun crimes reduced or possibly even dismissed.

Our criminal defense attorneys in Tallahassee also serve other communities, including Port St. Joe, Graceville, Perry, Marianna, Malone, Blountstown, and Wewahitchka. We can evaluate your case and help you understand all your legal options as soon as you call (850) 681-7777 for a free, confidential consultation.

Overview of Possession of a Firearm on School Property in Leon County

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Criminal Charges for Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds in Florida

Except as authorized in support of school-sanctioned activities, Florida law prohibits people from possessing or exhibiting certain types of weapons on or near school property. School property includes the grounds or facilities of any school bus, school bus stop, or within 1,000 feet of real property comprising of a public or private elementary school, middle school, or secondary school during school hours or a school sanctioned activity.

Under Florida Statute Section 790.115, a person is prohibited from possessing or showing off any of the following weapons at a school or school event in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner that is not in self-defense:

  • Sword;
  • Sword cane;
  • Firearm;
  • Electric weapon;
  • Electric device;
  • Destructive device;
  • Dirk;
  • Knife;
  • Metallic knuckles;
  • Slungshot;
  • Billie;
  • Tear gas gun;
  • Chemical weapon or device; or
  • Any other deadly weapon.

For the prosecution to convict the defendant of the offense, they have the burden of proving the elements of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant had or carried a firearm or other weapon;
  • The defendant exhibited the firearm or other weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner;
  • The defendant did so in the presence of one or more persons; and
  • At the time, the defendant was at a school-sponsored event or on the grounds or facilities of any school, school bus, or school bus stop, or within 1,000 feet of the real property that comprises a public or private elementary school, middle school, or secondary school, during school hours during school hours or during the time of a sanctioned school activity.

In addition to being prosecuted for the possession or exhibition of a firearm or weapon, the following lists other charges a defendant may be accused of:

  • Trespassing on School Property with a Firearm or Weapon Any person who is caught trespassing or attempting to trespass on school grounds while possessing or bringing with them any weapon or firearm can be charged with a third-degree felony. Important: Even if you are a student at the specific school, attempting to enter the grounds while it is closed is considered trespassing.
  • Storing a Loaded Firearm Within the Reach of a MinorA parent or guardian accused of leaving their firearms in reach of a minor (meaning not securely locked or contained) that resulted in the minor taking the weapon or firearm onto school grounds can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Discharging a Weapon or Firearm A person who is accused of discharging a firearm or weapon while at a school event or on school grounds can be charged with a second-degree felony. If the defendant is a minor under 18-years-old, they shall be detained in a secure detention and be given a probable cause hearing within 24 hours to determine if the minor shall continue to be held in a secure detention for up to 21 days to receive medical, psychiatric, psychological, or substance abuse examinations.

Have questions about the charges you’re being accused of or how to defend yourself against a conviction? Contact the defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law to review your case during a free consultation.

Exceptions to Firearm Possession on School Grounds

Despite the strict legislation against gun possession on school property, there are some exceptions to the law. Under Florida Statute Section 790.115(2)(a), person can lawfully possess a firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school property in the following scenarios:

  • In the case of a firearms program, class, or function that has been approved in advance by the principal or the school’s chief administrative officer as a program or class to which firearms may be carried;
  • In the case of a career center having a firearms training range;
  • Within the interior of a private conveyance of a vehicle if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use;
  • In the case of a person who lives within 1,000 feet of a school who lawfully owns a firearm; or
  • In the case of a person possessing a concealed weapons permit; however, any weapon still cannot be brought inside the campus grounds or school buildings.

If you have been arrested for a weapons or firearm charge on school grounds that you believe involved any of the above exceptions, contact a defense lawyer. An attorney with Pumphrey Law can help prove you were within Florida’s exceptions and can potentially get the charges against you dismissed.

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Penalties for the Possession of a Firearm on School Property

Criminal charges for possession of a firearm or other weapon on or near school property are largely the same. The Florida Statute provides that any person accused of possessing or exhibiting a weapon or firearm on or near a school faces a third-degree felony. A conviction for a third-degree felony carries:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines; and
  • Up to five years in prison.

If the defendant was lawfully authorized to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm but knowingly violated Florida law by bringing it on or near a school faces a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor carries:

  • Up to $500 in fines; and
  • Up to 60 days in jail.

A person accused of discharging a firearm or weapon on or near a school faces a second-degree felony. A conviction for a second-degree felony carries:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine; and
  • Up to 15 years in prison.

A conviction for a felony offense can have dramatic consequences for the alleged offender. In addition to a damaging criminal record that can impact possible employment opportunities, convicted felons will also lose their rights to own or possess firearms. If you are facing any of these criminal charges, consider hiring a defense attorney to represent your case.

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Defenses to a Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds Charge

You should know going into the legal process that firearm and weapons-related charges will be taken seriously by the prosecution. To avoid the harsh consequences that accompany a conviction, you can hire a lawyer to review your case details and see if any of the following defenses apply:

  • Self-defense – A defendant who was acting in self-defense of themselves or of others may be able to get the charges against them lessened or dismissed;
  • Lack of Knowledge – A defendant who did not know there was a weapon on their person should not be convicted of the offense. For example, if a person was walking at a school event and another person hid a weapon or firearm in their backpack while they weren’t looking; or
  • Lawful Concealed Carry – A defendant who had lawfully obtained a concealed carry permit may be able to use this as a defense to have the charges against them lessened to a lower offense or dismissed completely.

These are only a few of the potential defense strategies that may help a criminal defendant evade a conviction. To find out which defenses may apply to your particular case, contact the Pumphrey Law defense team to set up a free consultation.

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Find a Lawyer for Possession of a Firearm on School Property in Tallahassee, Florida

Were you arrested in Florida for allegedly exhibiting, possessing, or discharging a firearm or other weapon on school property? Regardless of whether you had a concealed weapons license, you can still face severe criminal penalties.

The Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys of Pumphrey Law represent clients throughout Madison County, Leon County, Jackson County, and Wakulla County. Our team will review your case during a free consultation when you call us at (850) 681-7777 or by filling out an online contact form.


Page Updated March 19, 2024

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