Can Convicted Criminals Still Possess Firearms?

Having a criminal record can negatively impact your life in multiple ways. It can affect your ability to secure a job, a student or home loan, a professional license, and the ability to vote. It can also adversely impact your ability to possess a firearm.  

Tampa criminal defense attorney Ben Stechschulte explains the process by which Florida law handles the possession of firearms by convicted criminals.   

Who Cannot Own A Firearm in Florida? 

  • According to the 1968 Gun Control Act, it is illegal for an individual to own or have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm if that individual was:  Convicted of a felony in a Florida state court, another state court, territory, or country (includes both violent and nonviolent offenses). 
  • Younger than 24 years old and was found by a Florida court (and in another state, territory, or country) to have committed a criminal offense that would be a felony if it were committed by an adult.  
  • Convicted of a crime that was punishable by imprisonment for more than a year. 
  • Found guilty of a felony under U.S. law.  

In addition to the criteria that fall under this act, it is unlawful for anyone to possess a firearm who recently received a domestic violence protective order or was convicted for a misdemeanor that involved force such as simple assaultdomestic violence, or battery. 

Firearms charges may fall under State or Federal statutes. If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal gun-related offense, it is imperative to seek legal counsel immediately. Call our Tampa, FL defense law firm and Attorney Ben Stechschulte at 813-280-1244 for a free case review.  

What Happens If A Firearm Law Is Violated By A Convicted Criminal?  

Violating Florida gun laws as an individual with a criminal record is a felony in the second degree and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison with a $10,000 fine. If the individual previously or currently qualifies for a penalty enhancement, the offense is considered a felony in the first degree and punishable by up to 30 years in prison with a $10,000 fine.  

Sentencing is based on whether the individual had constructive or actual possession of the firearm. Constructive possession occurs when the firearm is in a location controlled by the individual. Actual possession is when the firearm is being held or physically on the individual, is within reach of the individual, or is under his or her control. Actual possession has a mandatory three-year minimum prison sentence.  

Are you a convicted criminal charged with allegedly violating a firearm law? The skilled legal team of Stechschulte Nell can help defend your case. 

I Have a Criminal Record; Are There Exceptions tthe Firearm Laws?  

While the law states that a criminal conviction permanently forbids an individual to possess a gun, there are exceptions. These include: 

  • An expungement of a criminal record  
  • A presidential pardon 
  • Having civil rights restored through clemency *After an eight-year waiting period clear of infractions or arrests, a petition can be filed with the Florida Office of Executive Clemency for review.  

Fighting for Your Rights 

If you have a felony or violent criminal offense on your record, it is critical to understand how that may impact your future. An experienced attorney, like Ben Stechschulte, will review your gun/firearm case and advise you of any legal options we have to preserve your rights and freedoms.  

To learn more about our Tampa, FL based criminal defense law firm or to schedule a FREE case review, please call 813-280-1244. Our legal team is available 24/7 and can help you with both State or Federal related gun charges.  

Related Articles to Read Next:  

Federal No Gun Zones 

Gun Sales to Prohibited Buyers 

Firearms Crimes at the Federal Level 

Securing Federal Bond 

USCCA Firearms Resources

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