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Weapon and Firearm Charges

Article 1, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms in self-defense. Generally, Florida law authorizes a person to own, possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons without a license if:

  • The person is not statutorily prohibited from possessing a firearm or weapon; and
  • Such ownership, possession, or use occurs in a lawful manner and location as provided in Section 790.25, F.S.

The term “weapon” is defined in Section 790.001(13), F.S., to include “any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slugshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.”

Some individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm. For example, Section 790.22, F.S. prohibits minor children from possessing firearms. Section 793.23 prohibits convicted felons and juvenile delinquents from possessing a firearm.

Attorney for Weapon Charges in Pasco County, FL

If you were charged with a weapon or firearm charge in Pasco County, FL, then contact an experienced criminal justice attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients throughout the courtrooms in New Port Richey and Dade City, FL.

During the free consultation, we can describe the charges against you, ways to avoid the potential penalties, and how to aggressively fight the pending charges.

Call 727-807-6392 today for a free consultation.


Crimes for Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Unless an exemption applies as provided in S. 790.01, F.S., a person may not carry a concealed firearm or weapon without a license issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in 2017 in Florida, there are approximately 1.8 million licenses to carry a concealed firearm or weapon. The licensing scheme requires the Department issue a license to any applicant that meets objective statutory criteria explained in Section 790.06, F.S.


Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm without a License

In Florida, the crime of carrying a concealed firearm without a license or exemption is classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Carrying any other concealed weapon without a license or exemption is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Open Carry in Florida

Florida law generally prohibits openly carrying firearms and electric weapons as provided in Section 790.053, F.S. A violation of Florida's open carry law is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Section 790.053(1), F.S., provides that a person does not violate the open carry prohibition if the person:

  • Is licensed to carry a concealed firearm;
  • is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner;
  • displays the firearm briefly and openly; and
  • does not intentionally display the firearm in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court (FSC) upheld the constitutionality of Florida’s open carry prohibition in Norman v. State, 215 So.3d 18 (Fla. 2017). The FSC reasoned that prohibiting openly carrying firearms only regulated one manner of bearing arms and therefore did not impair the exercise of the fundamental right to bear arms.14

The FSC noted that, because Florida’s concealed carry licensing scheme requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue a license to anyone meeting objective criteria, there were alternative channels for bearing arms and self-defense in public.15


Exemptions to Florida's Licensure Requirements

Section 790.25, F.S., outlines sixteen circumstances in which neither the concealed carry licensure requirement nor the prohibition on openly carrying a firearm applies. This section exempts, among other circumstances, several professions involving the use of a firearm including;

  • hunting, camping, and other recreational uses; and
  • possession of firearms in one’s home or business.

Other sections address additional circumstances in which a person may carry a concealed weapon without a permit. For example, Section 790.01(3)(a), F.S., allows a person evacuating under a mandatory evacuation order to carry a concealed firearm. Section 790.052, F.S. provides that off-duty law enforcement officers have the right to carry a concealed firearm at the discretion of their supervisors.

Other sections provided exemptions to Florida's open carry laws. For example, under Section 790.053(2), F.S., a person may openly carry self-defense chemical spray, a nonlethal stun or dart-firing gun, or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.

Additionally, the federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act, found at 18 USC §§ 926B & 926, grants a privilege to qualified law enforcement officers or qualified retired law enforcement officers, allowing them to carry a concealed firearm without a state-issued license to do so.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.