Charged With A Firearms Offense?
A firearms offense is a crime in which the offender possesses or uses a firearm in such a way that is prohibited by law. This category of offenses includes crimes in which a firearm was not used during the commission of another crime such as possession by a convicted felon or carrying a concealed firearm. Firearms offenses are both state and federal criminal offenses.
Some common firearms offenses include:
- Armed burglary
- Armed robbery
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Aggravated assault involving a firearm
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense
- Possession of prohibited firearms
- Dealing in firearms without a license
What Are Your Rights After An Arrest?
Being arrested for a firearms offense is serious and can have lifelong consequences. The first thing to remember if you are arrested for such a crime is how important it is to exercise your right to remain silent and your right to a firearms offense attorney. These rights, typically called Miranda rights, are a very powerful tool because, once they are invoked, law enforcement MUST stop all questioning.
The right to remain silent is especially important because law enforcement is not your friend if they are arresting you, and no matter how much they will try to make it appear like they “only want to help” you, once they have, anything you say, it will be used against you in court. Similarly, the right to an attorney, which is an equally powerful right, must be exercised upon your arrest.
When one invokes their right to counsel, all interrogation by law enforcement outside the presence of an attorney is strictly prohibited. Of course, when invoking these rights, one must do so in such a way that law enforcement will clearly understand the invocation.
Associated Penalties For Crimes Involving Firearms
Even though firearms offenses range from being misdemeanors (the least serious) to felonies (the most serious), an arrest for any firearms crime has serious lifelong consequences. The possible penalties for a firearms offense may include imprisonment ranging from one day to as much as life, or even death in some circumstances, heavy fines, and periods of probation. Florida state law and federal law have also implemented mandatory minimum sentences for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and subsequent offenses of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Such mandatory minimum sentences include prison terms of three, five, seven, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years or life imprisonment. In addition to these legal penalties, a firearms offense conviction can have other serious consequences. A conviction for a gun crime will affect employment opportunities as most employers run background checks before hiring and often do not even give persons with criminal records a chance for an interview much less employment. In addition, under federal and Florida law, if someone is convicted of a felony crime involving firearms, he or she may no longer possess and/or purchase a firearm.
Worse, in Florida, one convicted of a felony firearms offense loses the right to vote in the state of Florida. It may also impact an individual’s ability to keep or obtain a professional license such as a license to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or law enforcement officer. A criminal conviction, especially a felony conviction, even though totally unrelated to the practice of any profession, may even result in the permanent revocation of the license.
State firearms offenses are investigated and prosecuted by the local sheriff, local police departments, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol and the State Attorney’s Office. Federal firearms offenses are investigated and prosecuted by various agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, ATF and the Department of Justice.
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