While Floridians are generally permitted to carry a gun in many situations in the state, this is not true for all locations. Under Florida law, individuals are prohibited from carrying a gun while inside the passenger terminal at an airport. Gun possession in an airport could result in criminal charges, in addition to civil fines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If you’re facing such charges, call our experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer.
Many individuals are unaware of the restrictions on guns in airports or simply forget that their firearm is in their possession. This is evidenced by the number of guns stopped at airports in Florida, and the subsequent charges many individuals receive.
Florida airports, such as Sarasota Bradenton airport, and others, including Orlando international airport, Gainesville regional airport, Jacksonville international airport, and Punta Gorda airport, see some of the most firearms caught at security checkpoints in the United States. According to the TSA, airports in the State of Florida made up three of the top ten U.S. airports with the most guns caught at security checkpoints in 2022.
The Law Place Gun Possession Defense Attorneys
What could seem like an innocent mistake if you weren’t aware of gun possession in airport laws or forgot you were carrying your firearm can lead to severe consequences, including criminal charges, fines, jail time, and even permanently losing the right to possess a gun.
If you have been arrested for carrying a firearm in Sarasota Bradenton airport, or any airport in Florida, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight your charges. The Law Place attorneys have a combined experience of over 75 years in criminal defense cases in Florida. Our wealth of knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system in Florida allows us to provide our clients with strategic, aggressive, and effective defenses.
If you are represented by a gun possession defense attorney from The Law Place, our aggressive and knowledgeable representation will give you the best possible chance of beating your charges or securing lesser penalties. A lot is at stake with airport gun possession charges. Secure skilled representation as soon as possible to help your case.
Contact The Law Place at (941)-444-4444 for a free consultation today.
Florida CLaws On Gun Possession
Florida legislature allows Florida residents to purchase handguns, shotguns, and rifles in the state without a permit. Similarly, gun owners do not require a license to carry a rifle or shotgun. However, carrying a handgun in Florida does require a permit. Gun possession restrictions apply in Florida in specific locations and setting where an individual is not permitted to carry a firearm. These include police stations, detention facilities, elementary and secondary schools, polling stations, some professional athletic events, and airports.
Concealed Carry Laws
Although Florida citizens are permitted to carry firearms and, in some cases, without a permit, this does not apply to concealed weapons. Anyone carrying a gun that is hidden from sight, either under their clothing or in a bag, for example, must have a concealed carry permit to do so.
With the exception of some lawful situations, carrying a concealed firearm without a concealed weapons permit in Florida can result in criminal charges. Carrying a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony offense, punishable by up to five years of incarceration, a fine of up to $5,000, and a permanent criminal record. If you have a previous felony conviction, this could be escalated to a second-degree felony charge, carrying up to 15 years behind bars.
Gun Possession in an Airport
Florida statute 790.06 (12) strictly prohibits individuals from carrying firearms in specific restricted areas. Amongst education facilities, prisons, and career centers, are airports. In particular, individuals are prohibited from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm inside the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, including Sarasota Bradenton airport.
Typically, most guns are detected when an individual attempts to pass through the security checkpoints. You may be arrested by a law enforcement officer or given a written arrest if you are caught in possession of a gun inside the passenger terminal of an airport. If you are arrested, ensure that you do not behave in an angry or threatening manner towards law enforcement or airport security staff, as this could increase the severity of the charges you face.
Consequences of Gun Possession in Sarasota Bradenton International Airport
Gun possession in Sarasota Bradenton international airport could leave you facing criminal charges and, in some circumstances, even poses the risk of becoming a convicted felon. Even a first offense carries potential jail time, and the fines you may have to pay can be extremely high.
If you are caught in possession of a gun in an airport in Florida, this can also make future travel more challenging and tedious. Often travelers will have their status as a trusted traveler and TSA Precheck benefits revoked. This can result in longer waits, more comprehensive searches, and a more lengthy process when you travel in the future.
The exact charge you could face depends upon the specific details of your offense, including the firearm permits that you already hold. In general, gun possession in an airport charges range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. If the firearm was hidden out of sight and the individual is not permitted to carry a concealed firearm, they will likely face third-degree felony charges.
The State of Florida does not always recognize out-of-state concealed weapon permits. As such, even if you think you have a concealed weapon permit, if this is not valid in Florida, you could still face elevated third-degree felony charges and the potential penalties a felony carries. If convicted of a felony, you could permanently lose your right to carry a firearm.
The amount of jail time you could be facing will vary depending on your charges. However, regardless of your charge, any offense involving gun possession in an airport carries the risk of jail time as a punishment. If convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor, you could be facing up to 60 days in jail. This penalty increases substantially for a third-degree felony offense, up to a possible sentence of 5 years in prison.
The fines you could face for gun possession in an airport in Florida can be extortionately high. Potential fines can be imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) through the civil, as opposed to the criminal, justice system. The recommended fines for carrying a firearm in an airport begin at $2,050 for an unloaded gun and $4,100 for a loaded gun.
A firearm may be considered loaded if both the gun and the ammunition are readily accessible to the individual, even if the ammunition is not in the gun. For instance, this could include if the ammunition is in your pocket and the firearm in your bag. If your weapon is considered loaded, your potential fines can double.
In reality, the fine you receive may end up being substantially higher than these base rates. The potential fine will also increase if it is a repeat offense. The maximum cost per offense can range up to $14,000, and in some instances, individuals can readily expect to be fined over $10,000 per violation.
Fines for gun possession in an airport may also be enforced through the criminal justice system. A felony offense could result in a $5,000 fine.
I Forgot that I Had My Firearm in My Bag. Can I Still Be Charged?
Unfortunately, forgetting that you had your firearm in your bag is usually not a guaranteed excuse for gun possession in an airport charges, but it could help your defense. For a conviction, the state could be required to prove that you displayed knowing or intention to break the law.
Where this becomes challenging is in proving that you accidentally brought the firearm into the airport and that you had forgotten it was in your possession. These types of arguments may only rely on the accused’s word and can turn into one person’s word against another’s. Without supporting evidence or a compelling argument, merely testifying that you forgot about the gun in your bag may not hold enough weight to beat a charge in court.
A skilled criminal defense attorney could build a compelling defense strategy to support the fact that you were unaware of the presence of the gun in your bag. With supporting evidence and a strong argument, this could help to avoid a conviction or receive a reduced charge.
Similarly, forgetting about a gun in your bag will likely be an inadequate defense if you do not have a concealed firearm permit and have been charged with an unlicensed concealed carry felony. Without a concealed carry permit, you should not have been carrying the gun in a concealed manner, regardless of whether you were in an airport.
Can I Legally Travel With My Gun?
Florida Statute 790.06 (12) does not prohibit individuals with a license to carry a firearm from taking their gun overseas or to a different state with them where they are required to travel by plane. However, the gun must be transported as checked baggage and not carried upon your person while traveling.
Specifically, Florida Statute 790.06 (12) states that:
‘No person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft.’
Usually, airlines will require you to declare that there is a firearm within your checked baggage when you check in for your flight. The firearm must be unloaded and completely secured in a locked case that is not easily opened. International travel could present further complications as firearms regulations differ across country borders. Check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ensure you comply with the local laws of your destination to avoid charges at your destination.
Contact The Law Place Gun Possession Defense Attorneys Today!
Gun possession in airports in Florida is taken very seriously by law enforcement. A history of gun-related violent incidents in airports means the state prosecutes these offenses aggressively. If charged, you will need to present a strong and convincing argument to avoid a conviction.
The criminal defense attorneys in The Law Place team are aggressive defenders with sharp courtroom skills and attention to detail that will significantly improve your defense and chances of beating a charge. A gun possession attorney from The Law Place will diligently search for evidence to build your defense.
In addition, your lawyer will critically review the prosecution’s case against you for weaknesses that can be leveraged to negotiate a lesser charge or even have your case dismissed. The sooner you begin legal intervention, the better your chances of beating your charges, potentially before ever reaching the courtroom.
If you have been charged with gun possession at Sarasota Bradenton airport, seek experienced legal advice to defend yourself against hefty fines, jail or prison time, and a permanent criminal record. Take the first step towards aggressive legal intervention against your charges by booking your free consultation with The Law Place today.
Contact our legal team on our 24/7 phone line by calling (941)-444-4444 to book your initial appointment.