Many laws aim to keep guns away from people who may hurt themselves or others, AKA prohibited persons. As classified by federal and Florida state law, these individuals are not eligible to purchase or possess a firearm. All retailers must conduct a background check of any potential firearm buyer through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement prior to selling and delivering a weapon.
However, private gun sales do not require a background check, even though the chance of the buyer being a prohibited person is presumably the same. Anyone who privately sells a firearm to a prohibited person – who then uses the firearm for criminal purposes or is found in illegal possession of a gun – could be held legally responsible and charged for a firearm crime. Our criminal defense attorney explains the risk of private gun sales to prohibited buyers…
Who is Considered a “Prohibited Gun Buyer”?
A prohibited buyer is considered as an individual who is not eligible to purchase or possess a firearm. According to federal law, 10 main categories may make an individual fall under the prohibited gun buyer classification:
- Convicted felon
- Fugitive from justice
- Unlawful user or person addicted to a controlled substance
- Adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment
- Illegal alien
- Dishonorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces
- Renounced U.S. citizenship
- Active protection order, i.e. restraining order, injunction for protection, etc.
- Convicted for crime of domestic violence (even for a misdemeanor)
- Under indictment for information for a felony
In addition to federal law, Florida state law also currently prohibits the sale of firearms to persons who are:
- Adjudicated of a crime that would have been a felony (until the age of 24 and/or the record is expunged)
- Receive adjudication withheld on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that falls within three years since the completion of sentencing provisions
- Those recently arrested for a potentially disqualifying crime that has not been dismissed or disposed of in court
As you can see, for sellers of firearms it can be easy to possibly unknowingly break the law with the gun transfer. To protect yourself, it’s best to seek the counsel of an experienced gun crimes attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and speak to law enforcement on your behalf. Remember, even during an interview, anything you say can be used to gain further evidence against you and could put you in legal jeopardy. Call today to speak with our Tampa, FL defense team. 813-280-1244
Related > Why you should say nothing to anyone but your attorney…
Obtaining a Firearm in a Private Sale
If not through a retailer, one may obtain firearms legally through a private sale, a transfer, a gift, other means. In addition, firearms can be purchased online through websites such as Armslist.
This may come as no surprise, but law enforcement agencies claim that nearly 80 percent of all firearms that are allegedly used in future criminal acts are obtained through private sales. These sales tend to be less likely than a gun store to conduct a background check.
Related > Common Gun Crimes
Is there an Agency that Monitors Private Gun Sales?
ATF (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) is the federal agency that investigates private gun sales, however, there is currently not an agency in the state of Florida. If a firearm purchased through a private sale is used for criminal purposes, ATF starts the investigation by obtaining the initial information from a store or manufacturer.
In addition to private sales, agencies like ATF watch for unlawful gun possession through means of theft, smuggling, using a straw buyer to purchase a firearm from a retailer, or through another black-market transaction.
If a law enforcement agent reaches out to you for an “interview”, call a defense attorney immediately. You’ll need experience on your side and not knowing the person was a prohibited buyer is not a good enough defense to mitigate your potential legal risks. Call our law firm led by board-certified Attorney Ben Stechschulte to discuss your options before or after gun sales charges. 813-280-1244
Related > I received a Target of Investigation letter. What should I do next?
What is the Law Regarding Private Gun Sales or Transfers?
According to Florida state law, anyone who transfers ownership of a firearm through a private sale must abide by the following rules:
- The buyer and seller must possess a valid government-issued ID from the State of Florida.
- The buyer must meet the minimum age requirement of 21.
- The buyer is not considered a prohibited buyer.
- The gun must have a serial number and cannot be sold with any illegal accessories, such as a bump stock or silencer.
Stechschulte Nell Defense of Illegal Firearms Sales Charges
If you have been charged for selling a gun to a prohibited buyer, you could face significant penalties should the case go to trial. Our Tampa based criminal defense law firm has experience in both state and federal firearms charges and can help in your defense.
For more information or to schedule a FREE case review, please contact Stechschulte Nell Attorneys at Law at 813-280-1244.