Criminal convictions come with a price. Whether it be an obligation to report to a probation officer or other restrictions, convicted felons pay the price for breaking the law years after completing their jail/prison sentence. One of the most stringent rules offenders have to follow is gun possession. Breaking this rule can have serious consequences. Keep reading to learn more.
Federal law bans convicted criminals from ever possessing firearms, especially those found guilty of felony domestic violence offenses. In Florida, felons who violate the law and purchase or own a firearm face prison time and costly fines. So, what counts as a firearm, and what crimes might make you lose your right to have one?
To understand what you can’t have, it’s important to define what counts as a firearm. A “firearm” can include any of the following:
- Electric weapon or device
- Tear gas gun
- Chemical weapons
- Ammunition for a gun
- Automatic weapons
Even tasers and stun guns for self-defense can get you into trouble if you’ve been convicted of a felony. It’s also important to note that possession can have multiple definitions, which can lead to trouble down the road.
- Actual Possession: When most people hear the term “possession of a firearm,” they think of actual possession. This means that the weapon or firearm is either in the hands of the offender, a container in the hands of the offender or within reach of the offender.
- Constructive Possession: If the offender has knowledge of a firearm in their vicinity or they own/operate a property where a weapon is stored or in use, the offender has constructive possession.
- Joint Possession: In many cases, if a family member of an offender has a weapon or firearm, it can jeopardize parole for the offender. For example, if the spouse of a felony offender has a gun that was purchased with joint funds or in both their name and the offender’s, it counts as illegal possession.
If you are a convicted felon, it’s best to remove yourself from any situations where a weapon or firearm would be in your possession or vicinity to avoid further punishment.
Penalties for Illegal Gun Possession in Miami
As mentioned earlier, criminal convictions can lead to more than jail time. Your right to bear arms can be taken away if you commit a felony in addition to other restrictions. In general, most individuals found guilty of a second-degree felony will no longer have the right to possess a firearm of any kind. So, what is a second-degree felony, and what is the penalty for possessing a firearm illegally?
Misdemeanors are less severe than felonies, and capital crimes are the most severe – second-degree felonies fall somewhere in the middle. Second-degree felonies are not as severe as first-degree or capital crimes, but they do carry significant penalties.
Examples of second-degree felonies include:
- DUI manslaughter
- Drug charges
- Aggravated battery
- Selling marijuana to a minor
- Domestic violence
If you’ve been accused of any of the above crimes, you may no longer have the right to own or possess a firearm. Being caught with a gun could lead to the following penalties:
- 15 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- 30 years in prison if the firearm is used to benefit, promote, or further gang violence
- 40 years to life in prison for career criminals carrying multiple felony convictions and/or first-degree felony offenses
It’s also important to keep in mind that if there is a restraining order against you, possession of a weapon/firearm may also be prohibited. Always make sure you understand the restrictions associated with the charges against you.
What Can I Do?
In some cases, you may be able to possess a firearm if your felony conviction is expunged from all criminal records. If you are not eligible for expungement, it is best to speak to a qualified attorney about your options. Always consult an attorney before consenting to police questioning regarding illegal gun possession if you’re a convicted felon.
If you’ve been convicted of a felony or illegal gun possession in Miami, contact The Hoffman Firm today.