Carrying a Concealed Firearm

As of December 31, 2019, there are more than two million concealed weapons license holders in Florida. Prior to July 1, 2023, if you carried a concealed firearm without a permit, you could be charged with a third degree felony under Florida Statute Section 790.01(2).

Effective July 1, 2023, the Florida legislature amended Section 790.01, F.S, to allow any “authorized” person to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm if the person:

  • is licensed under s. 790.06, F.S.; or
  • is not licensed under s. 790.06, F.S., but otherwise satisfies the criteria for receiving and maintaining such a license under s. 790.06 (2)(a)-(f) and (i)-(n), (3), and (10), F.S.

For any prosecution of carrying a concealed weapon or firearm in violation of Section  790.01(2) or (3), F.S., subsection (4) now requires the prosecution to bear the burden of proving, as an element of the offense, the following:

  • a person is not licensed under s. 790.06, F.S., and
  • the person is ineligible to receive and maintain such a license under the criteria listed in s. 790.06(2)(a)-(f) and (i)-(n), (3) and (10), F.S.

The term “concealed weapon or concealed firearm” is still defined under Section 790.06(1), F.S. The statute prohibited carrying a concealed firearm without a properly issued concealed weapon and firearm license when the firearm was concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.

The offense of carrying a concealed firearm is still a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

In many of these cases, it can be asserted that under subsection (3)(n), the possession is lawful because it occurs in the individual’s place of business even when the individual does not possess a concealed weapons permit under Florida law. The courts have found that the “place of business” language of subsection (3)(n) is simple and straight-forward.

Alternatively, if you have a valid concealed weapons permit and carry a firearm into a place where you are not authorized to openly carry a firearm or concealed weapon, then you can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute Section 790.06(12).

Those places in which a person is not authorized to carry a firearm or weapon even with a valid concealed weapon permit include:

  • a police station;
  • jail;
  • courthouse;
  • polling place;
  • government meeting place;
  • certain types of athletic events;
  • schools;
  • career centers;
  • bar;
  • club;
  • sterile area of any airport; or
  • any place where carrying a firearm is prohibited under federal law.

One of the most common places where this offense occurs is at the airport when a person forgets they have a firearm in their carry-on luggage until they go through the TSA airport security checkpoint.

Attorney for Concealed Firearm Charges in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrested for this serious offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your arrest for carrying a concealed firearm.

We defend gun owners on a variety of weapon charges throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, and St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County.

We also represent gun owners, either with or without a concealed weapon permit, who are accused of carrying a concealed firearm at the Tampa International Airport (TIA) or another secure location not covered by the concealed weapon permit.

If you were charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a permit or with a permit but at a prohibited location, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Carrying the Firearm Must be “Knowingly”

In many of these cases, an issue exists as to whether the person accused of the crime knew that he was carrying a weapon or firearm, especially when the item is in luggage or a vehicle.

Many arrests occur at Tampa International Airport when the firearm or other weapon is found in carry-on luggage under circumstances that indicate the individual did NOT know that the firearm or weapon was in the carry-on luggage. Nevertheless, law enforcement will typically arrest in such cases.

At trial, the issue is whether the person “knowingly” carried the firearm. As explained in Wolfram v. State, 568 So.2d 992 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990), in order to convict a person of carrying a concealed firearm, the state must prove that the person knew she possessed the weapon and that she had it “on or about” her person.

The Firearm Must be “Readily Accessible”

The Florida Supreme Court defined the term “on or about the person” to mean “physically on the person or readily accessible to him.” If the firearm is found by law enforcement in a vehicle, the issue often becomes whether the firearm is “on or about the person or readily accessible.”

Additionally, Florida Statute Section 790.25(5) provides a defense for carrying a firearm in a private conveyance if the weapon or firearm is “securely encased” and being carried for lawful use.

In fact, the Florida legislature determined that this subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful possession, ownership, and use of a firearm or other weapon, including for self-defense purposes.

Affirmative Defense – Concealed Weapons Permit

It is an affirmative defense to the charge of carrying a concealed firearm under Florida Statute Section 790.01 if the individual has complied with the provisions of Florida Statute Section 790.06 relating to a concealed weapons permit.

Effective July 1, 2023, the Florida legislature amended Section 790.01, F.S., by adding subsection (4) to provide that in any prosecution for a violation of s. 790.01(2) or (3), F.S., the state bears the burden of proving, as an element of the offense, that a person is not licensed under s. 790.06, F.S., and that he or she is ineligible to receive and maintain such a license under the criteria listed in s. 790.06(2)(a)-(f) and (i)-(n), (3) and (10), F.S.

Additionally, even if you have a concealed weapon permit, you can be arrested for carrying the concealed weapon or firearm in a prohibited place under Section 790.06(12).

The Right to Bear Arms Provided by the Florida Constitution

Article I, section 8(a) of the Florida Constitution, consistent with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the State shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.

Firearms and weapons are regulated by Florida Statutes Chapter 790. Florida Statute Section 790.01(2), provides:;

A person who carries a concealed firearm on or about his or her person commits a felony of the third degree….”

Florida Statute Section 790.25, regulates the lawful possession, use, and ownership of firearms and other weapons listed in (1) the following Declaration of Policy:

The Legislature finds as a matter of public policy and fact that it is necessary to promote firearms safety and to curb and prevent the use of firearms and other weapons in crime and by incompetent persons without prohibiting the lawful use in defense of life, home, and property, and the use by United States or state military organizations, and as otherwise now authorized by law, including the right to use and own firearms for target practice and marksmanship on target practice ranges or other lawful places, and lawful hunting and other lawful purposes.

Unauthorized use of a firearm is provided in Florida Statute Section (2)(a), which provides:

This section does not authorize carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, as prohibited by §§ 790.01 and 790.02.

The lawful use of a firearm is defined in subsection (3), which provides:

The provisions of ss. 790.053 and 790.06 do not apply in the following instances, and, despite such sections, it is lawful for the following persons to own, possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons, ammunition, and supplies for lawful purposes:

(a) Members of the Militia, National Guard, … when on duty, when training …;

(b) Citizens of this state subject to duty in the Armed Forces … when on duty or when training …;

(c) Persons carrying out or training for emergency management duties under chapter 252;

(d) Sheriffs, marshals, prison or jail wardens, police offices, Florida highway patrol officers, game wardens…

(n) A person possessing arms at his or her home or place of business.

Finding an Attorney for a Carrying a Concealed Firearm Charge

If you have been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, then contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney for any case in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, Bartow in Polk County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Florida.

Our main office is in downtown Tampa, FL.

We also have additional offices in New Port Richey, across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center, and in Clearwater near the Criminal Justice Center courthouse on 49th Street.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

This article was last updated on Monday, January 8, 2024.