Felon in Possession of Firearm
There are numerous arrests in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Florida for illegal firearm possession. The penalties for being a felon in possession of a firearm are harsh even if nobody was injured by your use, and even if the firearm was not discharged or used to perpetrate a crime. However, there often are defenses available for this crime. If you are charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, you should consult an experienced St. Petersburg gun crime attorney. At Hanlon Law, we know how to guard the rights of the accused.The Charge of Felon in Possession of a Firearm
Under Florida Statute section 790.23, possessing a firearm, electronic device, or ammunition after being convicted of a felony offense is a federal and state criminal offense. The prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have previously been convicted of a felony, and after being convicted, you knowingly owned or had within your custody, possession, control, or care a firearm, electronic device, or ammunition, or that you knowingly carried a concealed weapon. For example, if you were convicted of felony rape, served your time, and soon afterward were caught carrying a handgun, you could be charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.
You are considered to be convicted of a felony if a judgment was entered in a Florida criminal court pronouncing you guilty of a felony charge. You are also considered a convicted felon for the purposes of this law if you have ever been convicted outside the state, if the possible sentence is over one year in prison. A deadly weapon is any weapon that is likely to produce great bodily injury or death. Custody is immediate control used by someone over the firearm. If you were adjudicated delinquent for any crime that would have been a felony had you been charged as an adult, you cannot legally possess a firearm.
A prosecutor can try to prove that you possessed the firearm by showing either actual or constructive possession. Once convicted of a felony, you can only possess a firearm lawfully if your civil rights and firearm authority were restored. This law also does not apply to you if your criminal history was expunged under section 943.0515(1)(b).
Possession exists when you are personally in charge of or exercise a right of management, ownership, or control of a firearm. Actual possession occurs if a firearm is actually found on you. It exists when a firearm is in the hand of or on a person or so close as to be within their ready reach and control. Simply being close to a firearm is not enough to establish that you had control over it if the firearm is not in a place over which you have control. When a firearm is somewhere over which you do not have control, the prosecutor may be able to establish constructive possession. They would need to prove that you knew that the firearm was within your presence and had control over it. However, a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer may be able to make a strong argument against a constructive possession theory.
Possession of a firearm can be joint. Joint possession exists if two or more people both exercise control over it. For example, if your husband and you are both convicted felons, and there is a firearm in the bedroom, it may be possible for each of you to be considered a felon in possession of the firearm. If one person has exclusive possession of the firearm, knowledge of the firearm's presence can be inferred or assumed. If you do not have exclusive possession over the firearm, however, it cannot be inferred or assumed that you knew of its presence.
If you are convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, this is usually a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies can be punished by a prison term of up to 15 years. However, if you committed this offense after previously or currently qualifying for penalty enhancements listed under section 874.04, you can be potentially charged with a first-degree felony that may be punished by a term of life imprisonment.Consult a Felony Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
If you are a felon charged with possession of a firearm or with another gun crime, such as improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon, you need to retain an experienced St. Petersburg attorney. Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or contact us through our online form.