If you have been charged with discharging a firearm in public or on residential property, there may be many defenses applicable to your case. Working with an experienced West Palm Beach defense attorney will give you the greatest likelihood of avoiding a conviction and obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
West Palm Beach illegal discharge of a weapon or firearm lawyers have in-depth knowledge of Florida’s firearm regulations. A skilled gun attorney can help you build a customized and thorough defense strategy before the trial begins.
Florida’s Illegal Discharge Law
Florida’s gun laws regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, possession, and use of firearms and other weapons. Under Florida Statute §Section 790.15(1), it is a crime to discharge a firearm in public or on residential property. A West Palm Beach illegal discharge of a weapon or firearm lawyer can answer any questions someone may have regarding their case such as the important elements of the charge. The elements of this offense include knowingly discharging a firearm:
- In any public place
- On the right-of-way of any paved public roadway
- Over any occupied premises
- Recklessly or negligently discharging a firearm outdoors on property primarily used as the site of a dwelling or zoned for residential use
What is Considered a Public Place?
A public place means any location intended or designed to be frequented or resorted to by the general public. A dwelling is any building or structure with a roof and is designed for lodging. Knowingly means with full knowledge and intent. Recklessly means the person acts with conscious and intentional indifference or disregard to the consequences. Negligence is failing to use reasonable care under the circumstances.
In 2016, Florida amended §790.15 to prohibit the recreational discharge of firearms in certain residential areas, which has become more commonly known as the backyard shooting range ban. See §790.15(4). The West Palm Beach illegal discharge of a weapon or firearm law does have many exceptions including for self-defense, accidental discharges, and discharges that do not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property.
Potential Penalties and Potential Defenses
A violation of the statute is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. The offense is enhanced to a second-degree felony if the person knowingly and willfully discharging a firearm from a vehicle within 1,000 feet of another person. A second-degree felony is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
In addition, this statute makes it a third-degree felony for any driver or owner of any vehicle to knowingly direct another person to discharge a firearm from the vehicle. It is irrelevant whether the driver or owner was an occupant of the vehicle at the time. A third-degree felony carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines. There are several potential defenses to a discharging a firearm in public or on a residential property charge. First, §790.15(1) does not apply if the person was lawfully defending life or property.
If the person was performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm can be considered a defense. The same goes for the discharge of a firearm occurred on public roads or properties that have been expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service. West Palm Beach illegal discharge of a weapon or firearm lawyers can handle felony and misdemeanor illegal discharge of weapons cases in the area and throughout Florida.