Charges for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon 

Getting convicted of a felony offense is no small matter. Even after the fines have been paid and a sentence has been served, the consequences of a felony conviction linger and can prevent a person from obtaining certain rights. One of the most significant privileges stripped away from a convicted felon is the ability to possess or carry a firearm. 

While the ability to bear arms is a constitutional right in the U.S., those who hold a felony conviction on their record are prohibited from doing so. Despite fulfilling the obligations imposed by the legal system, convicted felons may find themselves grappling with the limitations that extend beyond the courtroom. The loss of the right to possess a firearm is a stark reminder of the lasting consequences of a criminal conviction. 

What happens, then, if a convicted felon is caught in possession of a weapon or firearm? Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a criminal offense that can be prosecuted by both the state of Florida and the Federal government, making it an extremely serious charge. If convicted of the new charge, the person can face new expensive fines and lengthy imprisonment, including a minimum mandatory prison sentence. 

In the face of these challenges, the importance of securing a skilled defense attorney in Palm Beach, FL cannot be overstated. A legal professional well-versed in firearm laws can help to fight these charges and clear your name. 

South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney 

Have you recently been charged with unlawful firearm possession as a convicted felon? If so, consider consulting with a defense attorney in your area. Convicted felons who are arrested on new charges will not be treated lightly. The State will likely try to push for the harshest of penalties if they secure a conviction. To have an experienced lawyer review and represent your criminal case, contact the South Florida criminal defense lawyers with Ian Goldstein Law. We’ll provide you with a free consultation when you contact us at (561) 600-0950

Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

Florida Statute Section 790.23 states that it is unlawful for a convicted felon to possess a firearm, ammunition, or electronic weapons or devices. 

A convicted felon is defined as an individual who was found guilty of a criminal offense punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. 

A firearm is defined as any weapon which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.

An electronic weapon or device is any device which, through the application or use of electrical current, is designed, redesigned, used, or intended to be used for offensive of defensive purposes, the destruction of life, or the infliction of injury. 

Florida law establishes that the prohibition of possessing or carrying a firearm applies to the following individuals: 

  • Convicted of a felony offense in a Florida court; 
  • Convicted or found to have committed a felony against the United States;
  • Found in the juvenile courts of the state of Florida to have committed a delinquent act that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult and such person is under 24 years-old;
  • Found to have committed of a delinquent act in another state, territory, or county in juvenile court that would be a felony if committed by an adult and would have been punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year and such person is under 24 years-old; or
  • Found guilty of an offense that is considered a felony in another state, territory, or country which would have been punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year. 

Convicted felons are also prohibited from possessing or carrying a concealed weapon. A concealed weapon is any deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.

Examples of items and devices that a convicted felon is prohibited from carrying is as follows: 

  • Ammunition;
  • Knives;
  • Dirks;
  • Tear gas guns;
  • Batons; or
  • Chemical weapons or devices.

Important: There are exceptions to the law regarding unlawful possession. A convicted felon cannot be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm if the following is applicable to them: 

  • The individual was convicted of a felony but had their rights and firearm authority restored; or
  • The individual had their criminal history record expunged.

When a convicted felon is accused of possessing a firearm or other prohibited weapon, the State must establish whether it was in actual or constructive possession. If you are facing this charge, it is imperative that you understand these two distinctions. 

A firearm or weapon in actual possession implies that the item is found on the convicted felon’s person. For example, if a gun was found in the waistband of the individual’s pants. Possession is also considered “actual” when the firearm or weapon is found within reach of the accused person. 

A firearm or weapon in constructive possession implies that the item is found in a place where the convicted felon had sole control over it, or if it was concealed in a place only the accused person knew where to find it. For example, a weapon found in a box under the bed of a convicted felon. 

Penalties for Unlawful Firearm Possession by a Convicted Felon

In Florida, a convicted felon who is caught in the possession of a firearm of weapon faces another felony charge. 

Florida Statute Section 790.23(3) establishes that it is a second-degree felony for a convicted felon to be caught in the actual or constructive possession of a weapon or firearm. A conviction for a second-degree felony carries: 

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

According to the Florida Bar Criminal Jury Instructions, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a person of unlawful firearm possession as a convicted felon: 

  1. The defendant had been convicted of a felony;
  2. After the conviction, the defendant knowingly:
    1. Owned or had in their care, custody, possession, or control a firearm, an electronic device, or ammunition; or
    2. Carried a concealed weapon. 

Federal Charges for Unlawful Firearm Possession 

It is important to note that a convicted felon can face legal penalties from both the State and Federal government for possessing a firearm. 

18 U.S.C 992(g)(1) explains that it is unlawful for a convicted felon to possess, ship, or transport a firearm or ammunition within the U.S. The prohibition on firearm possession under Federal law applies to, among other categories of persons forbidden to possess firearms, any person convicted of a crime in a U.S. courtroom which could have resulted in more than one year or imprisonment, or any individual who was convicted of a domestic violence offense. 

Provided by the Department of Justice, a convicted felon who knowingly violates Federal law by possessing a firearm shall be fined and faces imprisonment up to 10 years. If the individual has three prior convictions for a violent felony, they can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum 15-year imprisonment. 

Contact a South Florida Firearms Defense Attorney

It is especially hard for those previously convicted of felonies to get back on their feet and integrate back into society. A convicted felon who is accused of unlawful firearm or weapon possession should consult with a defense attorney. Considering that individual already knows the implications that come with a criminal conviction all too well, finding the right legal representation becomes paramount to the current case.

When you trust the Palm Beach defense attorneys with Ian Goldstein Law, we will provide you and your case with our broad knowledge and experience surrounding firearm charges. We will search for weaknesses in the Government’s case, and inconsistencies in opposing counsel’s argument. Our goal is to clear your name and get you back on the right track. Contact our office today for a free case consultation when you call (561) 600-0950.