JACKSONVILLE, FL – October 8, 2020 – According to an online news report posted on Jacksonville.com, as homicides have risen in Jacksonville, State Attorneys have began seeking longer prison sentences for felons who are arrested for illegally carrying firearms. State Attorney Melissa Nelson, made the announcement regarding her new policy on Aug. 31, 2020 to her staff. The new policy will require that prosecutors must seek three years, five years or ten years in prison based on the defendants’ criminal history.
State Attorney’s Office managers have explained to prosecutors that prosecuting firearm criminal offenses, such as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon are to be a top priority. Also, the new policy establishes three categories for felons who are arrested for possessing a firearm. One of the rules states that prosecutors are to offer a “minimum” of 10 years in prison to defendants who have a past conviction for one of 16 offenses that range from murder to resisting an law enforcement officer with violence, if that defendant has been convicted within five years of the new gun charge or has been released from prison within three years.
"Time and again, we have seen how the illegal possession of firearms leads to the use of those firearms in violent crime," State Attorney Melissa Nelson wrote in a memo to the prosecutorial staff. Prosecutors are also required to obtain approval from a director to waive a mandatory minimum sentence. The director will also be required to put the request in writing.
Researchers have often discovered that criminals are less likely to commit crimes when they feel they are more at risk for getting caught than the severity of the punishment. A doctoral student at the University of Utah, Scott Mourtgos, studied the efficacy of stiffer penalties in Florida counties. His findings shows that criminals are less likely to commit a crime if the criminal believes he or she will get caught and facing immediate consequences versus harsher punishments that may come in the distant future.
Penalties for Concealing a Firearm in Florida
Unlawfully carrying a firearm in Florida is a serious crime against public safety. Section 790.01(2) of the Florida Statutes defines unlawfully carrying a concealed firearm as a third-degree felony. Punishment for a third-degree felony in Florida could result in up to a five-year state prison sentence and a $5,000.00 fine. The court could place the accused on probation for up to five years as well. The prosecution must prove both elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of the crime are: (1) the person carried a firearm on his or her person knowingly, and (2) the person carrying the weapon concealed it from the view of others.
The law requires that the accused have knowing possession. In other words, the accused must know he or she is carrying a firearm and that the item is a firearm. The law does not require the intent to conceal.
Concealed does not mean completely out of view. The statute describes the standard as out of ordinary sight. The question of ordinary sight may turn on whether the person is sitting or standing at the time the police encounter the individual.
Florida’s concealed carry laws do not apply when the person has the firearm at his or her own home or in his or her place of business.