Effective July 1st, 2023, carrying a concealed weapon or firearm without a permit is legal in the State of Florida. Florida has become the 26th state to enact a legalized concealed carry bill without a permit. Now those who wish to carry a concealed weapon or firearm can do so without obtaining a specific permit or specialized training. However, the person must otherwise be eligible to obtain a concealed weapon permit.

It is important to remember that concealed carry and open carry are two different things. There are also still certain individuals and places prohibited from the new concealed carry law. Any person who is prohibited from possessing a weapon or firearm and does so can face criminal charges.

With the new changes regarding concealed carry within the state, it is imperative that Florida citizens understand the new law, its legal implications, and how to find criminal defense if he or she is accused of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon or firearm.

South Florida Defense Attorney

With Florida’s recent big changes to its concealed carry requirements, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the law. If you are facing criminal charges for any weapon or firearm-related offense, contact the Law Offices of Ian Goldstein. Our defense attorneys can answer any legal questions or concerns you have while working on fighting your charges. Call us today at (561) 600-0950 and receive a free consultation.

Weapons and Firearms Under Florida Law

Florida Statute Section 790.001 lists the following different types of weapons and firearms:

Concealed weapons – Any 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.

Firearms – Any weapon designed to, or may be readily 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” is considered any firearm which is carried on or about a person in a way to conceal it from ordinary sight.

HB 543

April 2023 marked the signing of a new law regarding concealed weapons and firearms. “Public Safety” bill codified under HB 543 now allows eligible persons who meet the specific criteria to carry a concealed weapon or firearm without first obtaining a concealed carry permit.

Previously, any person who wished to carry a concealed weapon or firearm had to first obtain both a concealed carry permit along with a completed firearms or related gun training course. Failure to complete either could result in criminal charges for carrying a concealed weapon or firearm without a permit.

HB 543 allows Florida citizens and non-citizens to carry concealed weapons or firearms if they meet the following requirements:

  1. At least 21-years-old;
  2. Has no disqualifying convictions relating to drug abuse, domestic violence, or any felony offense; and
  3. Has no dishonorable discharges from the military, no commitment to any mental institutions, or history of drug and alcohol abuse.

If a person does not meet these requirements and is caught in possession of a concealed weapon or firearm, they may be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony in Florida include up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Places Prohibited from Concealed Weapons and Firearms

HB 543 specifies the following restricted places that are prohibited from allowing the concealed carry of a weapon or firearm:

  • Station belonging to police, sheriff, or highway patrol;
  • Courtroom, courthouse, or polling place;
  • Elementary or secondary school, university, or school administrative building;
  • School or college event unrelated to firearms;
  • Bar or establishment for the purpose of selling alcohol; or
  • Any space in which federal law prohibits the carrying of weapons or firearms.

A person who is caught knowingly and willfully bringing a concealed firearm or weapon into any of the above prohibited places can face a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.

Federal Gun Free School Zones Act

The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act passed in 1990 made it unlawful for any person to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. A violation of this law is a third-degree felony. However, the passage of HB 543 could create challenges to the Act due to its exemptions. Currently, exemptions to the 1,000-foot rule include the following:

  • Possession of an unloaded and locked firearm in a secured container or vehicle rack;
  • Possession of a concealed carry permit; or
  • Possession of a firearm on private property that falls within 1,000 feet of a school.

Since the concealed carry permit is no longer required as of July 1, 2023, it could create confusion over the specific places where firearms are prohibited.

Any person authorized to carry a concealed weapon or firearm under HB 543 who knowingly brings any firearm or weapon within 1,000 feet of a Florida school can face a second-degree misdemeanor.

Additionally, possessing any of the following weapons in a threatening, angry, or careless manner within 1,000 feet of a school is a a third-degree felony:

  • Box Cutter
  • Destructive Device
  • Electronic Weapon or Device
  • Firearm
  • Pocket Knife
  • Razor Blade
  • Sword
  • Sword Cane

Firearm Purchase Availability in Florida

Although the laws regarding concealed carry have been updated in Florida, the same requirements remain for purchasing a gun or firearm. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) requires the following for a lawful firearm purchase:

  • At least 21-years-old unless the person is a law enforcement or correctional officer;
  • Must be a Florida resident for handguns. Non-Florida residents can purchase ‘long guns’ if it is applicable to the laws in their own state;
  • If the person is not a Florida resident, they must provide a valid registration or border crossing number; and
  • Wait the standard three days between the purchase and delivery of the firearm.

Prohibited Persons for Firearm Purchase

Both State and Federal law have laws in place for certain people prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Florida Law prohibits any of the following individuals from lawfully purchasing a firearm:

  • Juvenile delinquent adjudicated of a crime which would have been a felony offense if committed by an adult (prohibited until juvenile’s record is expunged or when they turn 24-years-old);
  • Defendant who received an “adjudication withheld” on any misdemeanor or felony offense involving domestic violence within the last 3 years; or
  • A person who was recently arrested for a potentially disqualifying offense that has not yet been dismissed or disposed.

Federal law 18 U.S. Code § 922 prohibits any of the following individuals from lawfully purchasing a firearm:

  • Person convicted of a felony offense;
  • Person considered a fugitive from justice;
  • Unlawful user or person considered addicted to controlled substances. This includes the use of medical marijuana under Florida law, as marijuana is still a banned controlled substance under federal law;
  • Adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed for mental health treatment;
  • Individual classified as an illegal alien;
  • Person who had their U.S. citizenship renounced;
  • Person with an active protection order such as a restraining order, injunction for protection, etc.;
  • Person convicted of a domestic violence offense; or
  • Person under indictment for a felony offense.

Can I Still Receive a Concealed Carry Permit?

Yes, even with HB 543 going into effect July 2023, those who wish to obtain a concealed carry permit can still do so with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Florida Statute Section 790.06 explains that a concealed carry permit is provided to those who demonstrate competence with a firearm by completing any of the following:

  • Hunter education or safety course;
  • Firearm training or safety course with the National Rifle Association (NRA);
  • Firearm training or safety course offered to the public by law enforcement, firearms training school, or any other school or college that uses certified instructors;
  • Firearm safety or training course offered to security guards, investigators, or law enforcement;
  • Presents proof of firearm training and experience through military services or organized shooting competitions;
  • Obtains a license to carry a firearm in this state; or
  • Any firearms training conducted by a state-certified firearms instructor.

Contact a Defense Attorney in South Florida

It is important to have an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney on your side if you have any legal questions or concerns regarding the new concealed carry law. If you or someone you know is facing criminal penalties for weapon or firearm possession, it is in your best interest to consult with a defense attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will be able to build your case a strong defense while ensuring your rights are protected.

Even with Florida’s more lenient laws on concealed carry, there are still stiff penalties in place for any person who does not lawfully abide by them. If convicted of an unlawful weapon or firearm possession, you may be facing expensive fines, imprisonment, or both. Contact Ian Goldstein Law to discuss your options for defense and get ahead of your case today by receiving a free consultation. Our office can be reached at (561) 600-0950.

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