As former prosecutors, our gun attorneys in Ft Lauderdale know that Florida’s gun laws are complex and the applicability of the state’s firearm regulations depend upon where you are and when you happen to be there. There are very few “blanket” laws that are applicable in every hypothetical scenario; as we will discuss here, the laws against and involving discharging a firearm in public or on residential property are particularly circumstantial.
Florida State Statute section 790.15 deals with the issue of discharging a firearm in public or on residential property. According to the law, it is a first-degree misdemeanor for someone to knowingly discharge a firearm in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street; to knowingly discharge a firearm over the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street or over any occupied premises; or to recklessly or negligently discharge a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling (defined by Florida law as a building or conveyance of any kind, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night).
Clearly, being charged with a violation of s. 790.15 is a serious matter, as a conviction could mean up to 1 year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. However, it should be noted that someone can only be convicted of this crime if it is proven that the defendant knowingly discharged the firearm and that they did so without proper justification. For example, the law does not apply to someone lawfully defending life or property or someone who in the act of discharging the firearm was performing official duties. Additionally, the law doesn’t apply to someone who discharged the firearm on public roads or properties that had been expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service.
S. 790.15 also mandates, more seriously, that any occupant of any vehicle who deliberately discharges a firearm from the vehicle within 1,000 feet of any other person is guilty of a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines. Similarly, any driver or owner of any vehicle (whether or not such person is actually occupying the vehicle at the time) who directs anyone to discharge a firearm from the vehicle in question has committed a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines.
Being charged with illegally discharging a firearm in public or on residential area should not be taken lightly. Our lawyers know how to defend these cases because we used to successfully prosecute them. If you have been arrested for or charged with committing the crime described above, please contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately.