Improper Exhibition of a Firearm or Weapon
St. Petersburg is a Florida city that is considered less safe than 95% of the cities in the state. It has the sixth-highest rate of violent crime in the state. The right to bear arms is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, and Florida has a strong gun culture. However, the state does regulate the possession, purchase, and use of guns, and it takes gun crimes seriously. If you face charges of improper exhibition of a firearm, you should consult a skillful criminal defense attorney. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon takes the rights of the accused seriously, and he works hard to provide a strong defense to his clients.Improper Exhibition of a Firearm or Deadly Weapon
The improper exhibition of a firearm or other weapon is prohibited under Florida Statute section 790.10. This law stops people from carrying a firearm as well as "any dirk, sword, sword cane... electric weapon, or device or other weapon" and exhibiting it in another person's presence in a careless, rude, angry, or threatening way, rather than in self-defense.
To establish that you committed this crime, the prosecution needs to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were carrying a gun or another weapon, you showed the weapon in an angry, careless, threatening, or rude way, and you were around one or more other people when you did this. It is not necessary, however, for you to threaten to actually shoot someone to be convicted of this crime. You do not even need to make a showing in an intentional way. You can be convicted for being careless with your gun in front of other people. However, you will not be convicted multiple times based on the number of people who saw the weapon if it occurred in a single episode.
As the statutory language indicates, a weapon under this law includes many non-firearms, even a sword. Dangerous weapons are any instruments that are likely to result in death or serious injuries when they are used in an ordinary way. Even a slingshot can count as a deadly weapon.
Improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty that you can face is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, you will still have a criminal record, which can make it difficult to get a job or housing, and it can affect future criminal charges.
The facts of a particular episode do not always lend themselves to immediately categorizing a crime as an aggravated assault with a firearm versus improper exhibition of a firearm. Improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon is a lesser included offense of aggravated assault. This means that in some cases, a prosecutor who wants to charge aggravated assault with a deadly weapon can be persuaded to charge improper exhibition instead.
An experienced and skilled gun crime attorney can look at the particular facts of your situation to determine a viable defense. Some common defenses to a charge of improper exhibition include:
- The instrument exhibited is not a deadly weapon;
- The way that it was used was not careless, threatening, or rude;
- The people who were alleged to be at the scene were not actually in your presence;
- You were invoking Stand Your Ground in connection with a break-in at your home; or
- You were otherwise showing the weapon as a means of self-defense or to defend other people or property.
Although you can be charged even for carelessly exhibiting a weapon, when carelessness was shown but there was no intent to exhibit the weapon, the prosecutor may be open to dismissing the charges, particularly if you have no prior record and there are no other aggravating factors. Sometimes it is not possible to obtain a dismissal, but it is possible to convince the prosecutor to charge disorderly conduct instead of improper exhibition.Consult a Skillful St. Petersburg Attorney When Facing a Weapons Charge
If you are charged with improper exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon, you should consult us. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are committed to protecting the rights of people accused of aggravated assault or other charges involving violent crimes or gun crimes. Call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or complete our online form.