The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives the right to bear arms. Florida has many laws in place in order to protect this right, however, gun owners must be aware of what activities may or may not put them in legal trouble. Illegal gun possession, unlawful use of a firearm, or other gun charges are serious criminal offenses. If you have questions about the owning and use of a firearm or have been arrested on a gun charge, the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Moses and Rooth can answer your questions or craft a defense on your behalf.
In 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed what is known as the “Warning Shot” bill into law. The warning shot bill allows for the defensive display of a weapon or firearm, including the discharge of a firearm for the purpose of a warning shot, without constituting as the use of deadly force. The law provides immunity from prosecution for persons acting in defense of life, home, and property from violent attack or the threat of violent attack through certain displays of or uses of force. The warning shot bill essentially strengthens Florida’s self-defense statute or “Stand Your Ground” law.
Stand Your Ground
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law received a lot of attention after the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. The use of deadly force under the stand your ground law is covered under Florida Statute Chapter 776, where a person is justified in using deadly force:
- If the person believes the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another;
- To prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; and
- Against a person unlawfully and forcibly entering or entered a dwelling, residence, or vehicle or while trying to remove a person against their will from a dwelling, residence, or vehicle and where the person using deadly force believed or had reason to believe an unlawful and forcible entry was being made or an unlawful or forcible act was occurring.
Under Chapter 776, a person is allowed to use force, but not deadly force, if said person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend themselves or another against the imminent use of unlawful force. The warning shot bill now allows for a person to display a weapon or firearm or to fire a warning shot without constituting as the use of deadly force.
Florida has a mandatory minimum sentencing law for the use of firearms during the commission of a forcible felony. Under Florida Statute 775.087, during the commission of a forcible felony there is a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence for producing a firearm, a mandatory 20 year minimum sentence for firing a firearm, and 25 years to life for shooting someone. The warning shot law prohibits the court from making such mandatory sentencing if the court finds the defendant acted within their rights under the warning shot bill.
An unlawful use or possession of a gun charge can hold serious penalties. If you have been arrested or simply have questions about your rights as a gun owner, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Moses and Rooth for legal advice on Florida gun laws and options for your defense.