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Weapons Crime Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Residents of the state of Florida are granted state and federal protections of their second amendment rights, also known as the right to bear arms. There are, however, limits to these protections. There are statutes, for example, that are attached to these protections that make it a felony offense to carry a concealed weapon without the appropriate license.

At the Fort Lauderdale offices of Musca Law, our skilled Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys are prepared to advocate fiercely in defense of your constitutional rights and reduce the effects that a criminal conviction will surely have on your life.

We are well aware that the state of Florida has made a name for itself as being a gun-friendly place, especially when it is compared to most of the other states. Our state prosecutors do not treat these infractions very casually. Being arrested for a crime involving weapons creates troublesome circumstances, and even those who are first-time offenders may possibly find themselves looking at prison time.

Knowing what your rights are is of the utmost importance. Reaching out to a hard-working Florida criminal defense attorney is vital to the outcome of your case. If you or someone that you love has been charged with a weapons offense or a gun crime in Fort Lauderdale, then please get in touch with a member of our outstanding criminal defense team at Musca Law at (954) 302-5391 today.

The Discharging of a Firearm in a Public Place

Florida has given out more concealed weapons permits than any other state in America, with about 1.4 million people given license to legally have a firearm on or near their person in public in 2015 alone. Thousands more possess out-of-state gun permits that are accepted in the state of Florida as well.

Florida regulations pertaining to how, when, and where a firearm may be employed are stringent. Included in these regulations is a ban against discharging a firearm in public. An infraction can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor, hinging on the circumstances surrounding the individual incident.

Here at the Fort Lauderdale offices of Musca Law, weapons crimes criminal defense attorneys work hard to advocate for clients’ rights to fight these types of criminal charges. Sentences will vary anywhere from as long as one year in jail for a misdemeanor of the first degree to as long as five years in prison for a felony in the third degree.

Our experienced legal team will strive to scrutinize the whole of the circumstances of your situation, reveal evidence that is to your benefit and endeavor to have any evidence against you thrown out or downplayed. No weapons crimes criminal defense attorney can guarantee a definite outcome in any case. We can, however, show you our impressive track record in handling these types of cases.

Through scrupulous examination and enthusiastic legal representation, our criminal defense team has produced positive results for other clients who found themselves in comparable situations.

It is important that any of our potential clients completely comprehend the charges that have been brought against them. This goes a long way towards getting them to understand the gravity of the case and to selecting the best attorney for their needs.

What Constitutes Discharging a Firearm in a Public Place

The crime of discharging a firearm in public is outlined in Florida Statute 790.15 . The offender can be found guilty of this crime in the event that she or he:

  • Deliberately shoots a gun in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public highway, street or road
  • Deliberately shoots a gun over the right-of-way of any paved public highway, street or road
  • Deliberately shoots a gun over any occupied property
  • Negligently or carelessly shoots a gun outside on any land used mainly as a place of residence (outlined in Florida Statute 766.013)
  • Negligently or carelessly shoots a gun on any building zoned solely for residential use

The breach of any of these stipulations is classified as a misdemeanor in the first degree, which usually receives a sentence of as long as one year in county jail. If they wish to make their case, the state must establish no less than one of these components beyond a reasonable doubt.

Definitions for commonly used terms in these types of cases:

  • Public Place: Any place that is created or designed to be visited or used by the general public
  • Knowingly: An action that is performed with full purpose and awareness
  • Firearm: Any weapon, including a starter pistol, that is meant to or may easily be modified to discharge a missile by the action of an explosive. It may also indicate a firearm muffler or silencer, the receiver or frame of any such weapon, any “destructive device” or any machine gun. Per Florida Statute 790.001(6) , the law does not include antique guns unless the gun has been used in the commission of a crime.

Common Sentences for Discharging a Firearm in a Public Place

The sentence for being found guilty of discharging a firearm in public will rely on a variety of determinants, including whether or not the offense is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.

Normally, the crime is a misdemeanor in the first degree, which means the harshest punishment is a fine of as much as $1,000 and as long as a year in county jail. It can also include one full year of supervised probation. Unlike some other misdemeanors, the state is generally not reluctant to go after an adjudication of guilt, even if it is the defendant’s first time in trouble with the law. Most of the offenders who are convicted do end up with a permanent criminal record.

That’s why we work hard to help our clients avoid conviction.

This is particularly necessary when the offender is being charged with a felony. According to Florida Statute 790.15(2) , the seriousness of the offense can be increased to a felony in the third degree in those cases where the offender has been accused of discharging their weapon from an automobile. The most severe sentences for charges of a  third-degree felony include as long as five years in state prison, as long as five years of supervised probation and a fine of as much as $5,000.

Defending the Discharging of a Firearm in a Public Place

There are quite a few effective arguments that can be made under these conditions. These arguments may include the contention that:

  • The offense was not intentional or committed knowingly
  • The offender was protecting her or his life or the life or property of someone else
  • The offender was conducting official duties that legally require them or allow them to discharge their sidearm
  • The act in question occurred in a private place not intended for the general public
  • There is no evidence that the gun was actually fired 
  • The firing of a gun or other weapon was unintentional
  • Violation of constitutional rights resulting in the exclusion of state evidence

If you have been charged with the crime of discharging your firearm in public, please contact us immediately to learn more about what we can do for you.

Firing a Gun into an Occupied Dwelling

In the state of Florida, if you shoot or otherwise launch a “deadly missile” into a structure, transport or boat with willful or nefarious purpose, you may potentially be looking at as long as 15 years in state prison. This punishment could be the case even if no one was hurt as a result of the shooting.

Shooting into an occupied dwelling is explained in Florida Statute 790.19, which also covers buses, aircraft, streetcars (trolleys), railroad cars and other vehicles, and it applies whether or not the structure is a place of residence or a private or public building.

The Broward County, Florida criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law understand that this statute was created for the purpose of securing public safety. The wording of the statute, however, is general and includes a wide variety of deeds, quite a few of which are much less severe than others. For instance, a “deadly missile” can be defined as any item from a bullet to a stone.

In these types of cases, along with engaging the usual defense tactics, our criminal defense team will endeavor to distinguish possible mitigating circumstances that might coerce the state to lessen or even throw out your charges prior to the trial. For instance, in the event that nobody was hurt, you do not have a previous criminal record and there is very little proof that the deed was deliberate, all of these things can be used to your benefit.

How Florida Defines Throwing or Shooting a Missile

Usually, when we imagine a “missile,” we think of a weapon of war like a nuclear explosive device. Obviously that is not what is referenced in Florida Statute 790.19.

A missile could technically be any item that is launched at a mark, either via the use of a mechanical weapon such as a gun or by hand.

The law that pertains to shooting or throwing a deadly missile specifically declares that an offender can be found guilty if she or he nefariously or willfully shoots into, at, or within or throws any missile or propels any rock or other hard item that could potentially cause a fatality or other grievous bodily harm into a private or public building. Whether unoccupied or occupied, a private or public automobile that is occupied, she or he could very well be found guilty of a felony in the second degree.

Technically, the word “missile” isn’t legally clarified under any Florida law. The Second District Court of Appeals ruled in the 1982 case of J.W.B. v. State that a “missile” could be deemed any object or weapon that is thrown, fired, projected or dropped at a given mark.

Whether the missile is a stone or a bullet fired from a machine gun, the key is that it must be able to cause a person either grievous bodily harm or death. This means that the identification of the exact item is an absolutely necessary element in the case for your conviction.

A few of the items that have been recognized by the state of Florida that qualify as “missiles” include but are not limited to the following:

  • Grapefruit
  • Metal lock
  • Soda bottle
  • Rocks/Stones
  • Oranges

Some of these may seem ridiculous, but this counts as a felony charge and the results are no laughing matter.

What Constitutes Firing a Gun into an Occupied Dwelling

In order for the state to show that the offense took place, they have to ascertain the following:

  • That the item was dangerous and capable of causing grievous bodily harm or death
  • The item was launched or shot from a mechanical device
  • The mark was a private or public building, whether unoccupied or occupied, a private or public automobile that is occupied or being used by someone, boats in state waters or airborne aircraft
  • The deed by the offender was willful or nefarious 

Notice that when dealing with a structure, it is not required that it be occupied. With concern to a vessel or vehicle, however, it must be occupied or currently being used by someone.

Each of these factors must be established beyond a reasonable doubt if the state has any hope of securing a conviction.

The maximum sentence for a verdict of guilty can include as long as 15 years in state prison, as long as 15 years of supervised probation and an administrative fine of as much as $10,000.

Potential Defenses to the Accusation

There are a wide variety of potential defenses in these kinds of cases. Some potential defense tactics may include but are not limited to:

  • The automobile was not currently occupied
  • There is a lack of satisfactory proof towards identifying the missile
  • The missile was nothing that would have resulted in grievous bodily harm or death
  • The projection, throwing or shooting was unintentional
  • There was no willful or nefarious purpose
  • There is not enough proof that the offender was the person who threw, shot or propelled the missile

The most practical resolution for your case will hinge on the exact allegations. Call our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys today at (954) 302-5391 to learn more about how we can help. 

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