What to Do if Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida?

Updated: September 12, 2022 by Sean McQuaid

If you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida, you could be facing severe penalties. The prosecutors and judges take these cases seriously. Our goal is to get the charges dismissed or the penalties reduced with the help of a Florida criminal defense attorney.

What Defines Illegally Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Florida?

Florida Statutes 790.01 classifies the crime of carrying an unlicensed concealed weapon as a misdemeanor. However, if the weapon is a firearm, the crime becomes a third-degree felony.

A concealed weapon could include any device, electric weapon or firearm.

The prosecutor must prove that:

  • You knowingly carried the weapon on or about you.
  • Concealed the weapon out of the ordinary sight of another person.
  • Were not licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm.

What Penalties Could I Face After Being Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida?

If the charges are not dropped, jail time is a realistic possibility. During plea negotiations, prosecutors are often stubborn because they are concerned that you may be a danger to the community. This is especially true if you carried the weapon while using alcohol or drugs. The maximum penalties may include:

  • Up to $1,000 fine
  • Up to 1 year in jail or 12 months on probation

As with any serious crime, the consequences a conviction could have on your life and future are also significant. From finding a job to housing and education, a criminal record can leave you struggling for the rest of your life. Most background checks will flag you for these types of crimes for liability reasons. The theory is that if they are on notice that you have had a weapon in the past, they could become liable for your future actions. For example, if a landlord sees this crime on your record, they will be less likely to rent to you.

Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida – What Next?

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida, the best thing you can do is to contact a criminal defense attorney.

The punishment can be stiff even if you’re a first-time offender.

Our criminal defense attorneys know that people are often falsely arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida and can utilize a range of possible defenses.

With extensive legal experience and expertise, we can craft a winning strategy by listening to your story and presenting your case in the best possible light.

Be Proactive- Get a Strategy

In almost every case, we instruct our clients to do some type of educational class (weapons training or firearm safety), anger management, or drug or alcohol counseling. Think about it this way-the prosecutor and judge are going to want to make sure that you are not a danger to society. They will want to make sure that they didn’t just let you go without making sure that it is safe to do so. Our clients get superior results because they proactively take the steps necessary to get the charges dropped. We can direct you to programs that you can begin immediately.

Being proactive and getting into counseling is not an admission of guilt. It cannot be used against you in the concealed weapon case. It can only help increase your chances of a good outcome. Our clients get better results because they differentiate themselves from the other people who do nothing. Taking these steps goes a long way in the eyes of the prosecutors and the judges.

How to Get Florida Concealed Weapon Charges Dropped?

Defenses to Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, we may be able to defend anyone arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida for the following reasons:

  • The defendant was not carrying a weapon.
  • The defendant had no knowledge of the weapon.
  • There is no proof that the defendant had knowledge of the weapon.
  • The weapon was not readily accessible.
  • The weapon was within ordinary sight.
  • The defendant had a concealed carry license
  • The weapon was securely encased

Unlawful Arrests

As with any arrest, there are also conditions where the arrest may have been unlawful. Any evidence obtained in these scenarios may be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. This is most common if you were stopped or searched without probable cause.

Diversionary Programs

If you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida and don’t have a legitimate defense, you may be able to have the case dismissed thanks to the State’s diversionary program.

Diversionary Programs (also called pre-trial interventions) are designed for first-time offenders only.

If accepted by the State Attorney into a diversionary program, you will have to sign a deferred prosecution agreement. This document contains requirements such as community service hours and/or counseling.

If you successfully complete the program, your charges will be dismissed.

However, any failure to complete the program’s requirements will result in your case proceeding as usual.

This diversionary program offers a great chance for first-time offenders to get out of a one-time mistake and this opportunity should not be wasted by failing to respect the conditions.

Speaking to a criminal defense attorney is highly advised so they can advise you on which route to take next.

Negotiating With the Prosecutor

While using legal defenses are important, in some cases, people simply made a mistake. In these situations, it is important to explain to the prosecutor why leniency is deserved. Perhaps you have never been in trouble before? Perhaps drugs or alcohol were involved? Perhaps you were with the wrong people? Regardless of the situation, we like to explain to the prosecutor about what led up to the arrest. We like to provide information on our client’s background. We like to provide letters of recommendation or anything that could portray our client in a positive light. By going this extra mile, we personalize our clients and get better results for them.

Exemptions for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida

Florida law also allows for various circumstances where someone can carry a concealed weapon. These include:

Secure Encasement

The crime of unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon does not apply if the weapon is ‘securely encased’ within a motor vehicle or other ‘private conveyance’.

For example, storing a gun in a glove compartment, holster, gun case or closed box in a car would likely allow a concealed weapon charge to be dropped.

See Bell v. State, 636 So. 2d 80, 81 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994)

No Immediate Use

If someone’s weapon was concealed in a private conveyance and not ‘readily accessible for immediate use’, their charges may also be defensible.

For example, if an unloaded gun is concealed in a car, but the ammunition is stored in a separate closed container, the charge may be dismissed as the defendant could not retrieve and use the weapon quickly.

See State v. Weyant, 990 So. 2d 675, 677-78 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008)

Concealment in Home or Place of Business

It is not unlawful for a person to carry a concealed weapon at their home or place of business.

This defendant must have been in their surrounding property or buildings and structures situated on the property.

The term business covers anywhere the defendant is employed.

See Collins v. State, 475 So. 2d 968, 969 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985)

Hunting, Fishing or Camping

Section 790.25(3)(h) of the Florida Statutes states that a person may carry a concealed weapon while fishing, camping or lawful hunting, or on their return from fishing, camping or lawful hunting.

How to Get a Concealed Weapon License in Florida?

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services can issue concealed weapon licenses to individuals meeting the following criteria:

  • U.S. Citizen or permanent U.S. Residents
  • Aged 21 years old or older
  • No physical disabilities that could prevent safe handling of the weapon
  • No felony convictions
  • No habitual offender designation under Florida law
  • No alcohol or drug problems
  • Demonstrates competence when handling a weapon through:
  • Completion of an approved hunter education or safety course
  • Completion of any NRA firearms safety or training class
  • Completion of any law enforcement firearms safety or training class
  • Holds a license to carry a weapon in Florida

Additional Resources

Concealed Weapon Arrest Attorney in Pinellas County, FL

The good news is that many of these cases can be dismissed or the penalties minimized with the proper strategy.

If you want to increase your chances at getting the case dismissed, reduced, or the penalties lessened after being arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Florida, then contact our criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Over the years, we’ve had very good success in getting these charges dismissed or penalties minimized and keeping criminal records clean. Our strategy has worked time and time again, so we can be trusted to help.

Free Consultations

Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He has handled countless carrying concealed weapons charges in his career. He was the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, a group of 1,100 lawyers and judges in the area from 2020-21. He is the managing partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., St. Petersburg’s oldest law firm. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen for you.

With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you fight a concealed weapon charge in Florida.

Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300

Sean McQuaid