With the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 3rd, 2023, Florida strengthened its citizens Second Amendment rights by allowing individuals to carry a concealed firearm (starting July 1st) without requiring purchase of a concealed carry permit. The measure makes Florida the 26th state to decriminalize concealed carry of a firearm without a permit or any requirement for special training.
This is a big deal because current law makes carrying a concealed firearm without a permit could be as serious as a third-degree felony. A conviction for this offense carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. That’s a serious weapons charge which could substantially impact one’s life for the worse. Until now, obtaining a Florida concealed carry permit previously required four hours of classroom time, firearm instruction, and passing a reasonable test. Those without a permit were required to keep their lawful firearms in a locked container. Concealed carry permits allowed individuals to keep their gun under their clothing, filing cabinet, or vehicle glove compartment.
In order for these new protections to apply, the law requires that the individual:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be at least 21 years of age or older.
- Have no disqualifying felony convictions or convictions for any crime relating to violence or drug abuse and no conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.
The state *may* also deny these protections to individuals on the basis of a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, commitment to a mental institution, or dishonorable discharge from the military.
And although the law doesn’t technically take effect until July 1st, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers understand there will not be legal penalties imposed on individuals between now and then for carrying a concealed firearm in public – so long as they aren’t in a prohibited area.
Prohibited areas typically designate at the entrance that firearms are not allowed inside. These often include schools, courthouses, polling places, any meeting of a government body (city council or county commission meetings), detention facilities, establishments licensed to sell alcohol for consumption, colleges and universities, and airport terminals. These restrictions will remain.
Further, it is still unlawful for individuals who have a prior conviction for a felony to carry a firearm – concealed or otherwise – unless their right to do so has specifically been restored. Similarly, those who have had their firearms confiscated as part of a protective order or injunction (domestic or otherwise) also still can’t legally carry (or even have in their possession) any firearms.
It’s worth noting that there’s no change as far as who can or can’t buy a gun in Florida. It’s just that there is no training or permit needed required for that purchase. Furthermore, state and federal background check requirements for firearms are still in effect. (Florida requires licensed dealers – but not individuals – to conduct background checks on firearm buyers prior to the sale. About 98 percent of transactions are resolved within minutes, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.)
If you’re currently facing criminal charges for carrying a concealed firearm in Florida, it’s possible your case may be ripe for dismissal on the basis of this new law. For more information on this or to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, call our offices today.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Firearm Transaction Decisions, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
More Blog Entries:
Bill to End Depositions in Some Florida Criminal Cases Would Impact Defense, March 11, 2023, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer