Improper Exhibition of a Firearm

Under Florida Statute Section 790.10, the charge of improper exhibition of a firearm or other dangerous weapon is a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charge of improper exhibition of a firearm or other weapon requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. The Defendant carried a weapon;
  2. The Defendant exhibited the weapon in a threatening, careless, angry or rude manner;
  3. The Defendant did so in the presence of at least one other person.

The first-degree misdemeanor offense of improper exhibition applies to any dangerous weapon including a sword, firearm, or electric device such as a taser. Several important defenses can exist when you brandished the weapon in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property.

Attorneys for Improper Exhibition of a Firearm in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrested for the crime of improper exhibition of a firearm (brandishing a weapon) in Tampa, FL, or the surrounding areas in Tampa Bay, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A.

Related charges for crimes of violence include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or discharge of a firearm.

Since 2008, our offices have been at the same location just a few blocks from the courthouse. The four criminal defense attorneys at the firm are exclusively focused on criminal defense.

We help clients charged with a variety of different types of weapon charges throughout the Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, and Polk County, Florida.

Call (813) 250-0500 to talk with us about the facts of your case today.

Brandishing a Weapon under Florida Law

The misdemeanor offense of “improper exhibition of a weapon” is also commonly referred to as “brandishing” a weapon. The crime of improper exhibition of a firearm is a permissive lesser-included offense of aggravated assault.

Many people are surprised to learn that the offense of improper exhibition does not have to be committed intentionally. Although as a practical matter, prosecutions for the careless exhibition of a firearm are probably rare.

Since most crimes must be committed by acting intentionally, knowingly, and willfully, prosecutors would have a hard time convincing a jury that a merely careless act is a crime.

Recently, the Florida Senate has passed new legislation that creates a defense to another misdemeanor firearm statute for openly carrying a firearm if the display was an accident. It remains to be seen whether this new defense will also impact prosecutions for the “careless” improper exhibition of a firearm.

Other defenses revolve around the exhibition occurring on private property. In some cases, a defensive display of the firearm might be excused if it was done in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property.

In fact in Kase v. State, 581 So. 2d 612, 613 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991), the court found that a defendant may be convicted of the improper exhibition for merely carelessly, angrily or rudely displaying a weapon even if the defendant did not make a threatening gesture with the weapon.

Likewise in  Stone v. State, 402 So. 2d 1222, 1223 (Fla. 5th DCA 1981), the court found that it is not necessary that the exhibition be carried out in an intentional manner. Instead, even the mere “careless” display of the firearm or weapon is sufficient to subject the accused to criminal liability.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.