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Concealed Firearms in Florida, Limitations and Violations

To conceal something is to hide it from the ordinary sight or view of another person. This applies to carrying a concealed firearm on your person, which is illegal under 790.001 of the Florida Statutes, unless you have a valid Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP). This includes carrying it in your shirt or pocket or jacket where another person may not ordinarily see it. You may, however, carry a firearm, concealed or not, in your home or place of business.

A firearm, for purposes of the Florida statute, is:

  • Any weapon that may be readily converted
  • To expel by an explosive charge
  • A bullet or projectile

This includes pistols, revolvers, shotguns or rifles. Antique firearms, or those guns produced during or before 1918 are not included unless they were used in the commission of a crime.

You may conceal a firearm or weapon in your vehicle without a permit if you are at least 18 years of age and keep the firearm or weapon in your private motor vehicle in a securely encased box or container, or if it is not readily accessible. This includes keeping it in your glove compartment or anywhere else so long as it is in a snapped holster for example. There is no requirement that the container with the weapon be locked.

Always carry your CWP whenever you carry a concealed firearm on your person. Also, you may not openly carry a firearm unless you have a valid CWP and may only briefly display it such as for self-defense purposes, but not if you are doing so in a threatening manner. You may also openly carry a firearm if returning from a camping, hunting or fishing trip or at, going to, or returning from a firing range or gun show.

Persons Ineligible to Apply for Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)

There are certain categories of individuals who are not eligible to apply for or to receive a CWP:

  • Anyone convicted of a felony
  • Those with two or more DUI convictions in the past 3 years
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor for a violent crime in the past 3 years
  • Persons who pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor for a violent crime but had adjudication withheld, and 3 years has not passed since all conditions of probation have been met
  • Persons who were dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Individuals with a conviction for violation of a controlled substance law
  • Persons who have a record of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Anyone who renounced U.S. citizenship
  • Persons who are physically unable to safely handle a firearm
  • Those who were adjudged mentally incompetent or mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution
  • Persons who have in force an injunction regarding domestic violence or against repeat violence
  • Fugitives from justice

Felons who have had their civil rights restored, usually by a governor’s pardon or by the convicting authority, may legally apply for a CWP permit.

Otherwise, any person who is at least 21 years of age and has demonstrated competency with a firearm, resides in the U.S. and is either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, may apply. Demonstrating competency requires that you complete an approved firearms safety or training course or class taught or under the auspices of the following:

  • The National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • Hunter safety course by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Law enforcement agency
  • Conducted by a state-certified instructor or one certified by the NRA
  • Offered by a junior college, college or private organization with instructors certified by the NRA, Criminal Justice Standards and      Training Commission or Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Documentation of experience acquired by participation in organized shooting competitions
  • Active member of the U.S. armed services
  • Former military with proof of honorable discharge

When Possession of a CWP is Irrelevant

Having a CWP does not mean you may carry a concealed weapon anywhere you go. There are numerous restrictions on where and when you may not carry a concealed firearm on your person at any time. These include:

  • Bars or liquor stores
  • Government buildings such as courthouses, police stations, post offices and jails
  • If you are asked to leave a business or building—if you refuse, you face trespassing charges
  • Polling place
  • Any elementary, high school, college or other educational facility
  • An school athletic event unless related to an organized gun competition
  • Any meeting of the legislature
  • A passenger terminal or sterile area of any airport

Penalties for Violation of Concealed Firearms or Weapons Law

If you are arrested for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit or in places where firearms are not permitted at all, you face a third degree felony with a maximum of 5 years in state prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. For violating the Florida open carry law, you face a second degree misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum of 60 days in jail.

For violating the state law on carrying a concealed weapon that is not a firearm, you face a first degree misdemeanor charge and up to one year in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Contact a Florida criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with violation of Florida’s prohibition on carrying a concealed firearm or for any other gun offense or weapons charges. Felonies as well as misdemeanors are serious offenses that can permanently affect your rights or ability to find suitable employment or housing among other consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest stage of your criminal proceeding can be vital to receiving a favorable outcome.