Discharging a Firearm in Public
If you have been charged with discharging a firearm in public, you are likely worried about the consequences of a conviction. Criminal penalties can be severe, with huge fines and years spent in state prison. Sarasota weapons lawyer Erika Valcarcel knows that this charge can permanently alter your life. With years spent as both a prosecutor and a defender, she can anticipate how the state will approach these types of cases and will work tirelessly to tell your side of the story, whether that involves pointing out police misconduct or conducting an independent investigation.
Call (941) 363-7900 now to see you your charges can be reduced or eliminated in court.
Defining Discharging a Firearm in Public
Florida statute defines discharging a firearm in a public place as firing a gun in a public place, or any area frequented by members of the public. In order to reach a conviction, the prosecution must establish at least one of the following legal elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The individual knowingly fired a gun in a public place; or
- The individual knowingly fired a gun on a street or highway
In this definition, the term “public place” is thought of any area intended to be used or frequented by the public. This can include parks, shops, theaters, libraries, and many other locations that are part of the social landscape. In the context of discharging a firearm in public, the term “firearm” is defined as any weapon capable of discharging a projectile. Strangely, this definition does not include antique guns.
Criminal Penalties and Collateral Consequences
Discharging a firearm in public is a wobbler in the state of Florida. This means that, depending on the circumstances, the crime can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The crime is elevated to a third-degree felony when a weapon is fired from a vehicle. Prosecutors have been known to seek adjudication of guilt in these cases, even for first-time offenders. This leads to the individual having a permanent criminal record. Criminal consequences include, but are not limited to:
- Discharging a Firearm in Public (Misdemeanor): A fine of up to $1,000 and either 1 year in jail or 12 months on probation
- Discharging a Firearm in Public (Felony): A fine of up to $5,000 and either 5 years in prison or 5 years on probation
A criminal conviction can also have disastrous effects once you are released from jail. Finding a job may be all but impossible, as few employers jump at the chance to hire someone with a criminal record. Your attempts to further your education might also be stifled. Many colleges vet their applicants, and most scholarships are off-limits to those with a conviction history.
Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
There are a number of defenses that a skilled attorney can use to get your charges eliminated in court. One effective strategy for keeping your record clean is claiming that the discharge was unintentional. If this can be proven, it is likely that you will be cited with an infraction rather than charged with a crime. It might also be the case that you were defending yourself or your property. Proving self-defense can be instrumental in getting your charges thrown out.
Sarasota weapons lawyer Erika Valcarcel knows how devastating this charge can be. You may have lost your job once the accusation went public, and relationships with loved ones might now be permanently altered. She believes that the key to an effective defense lies in getting to know you and listening to your side of the story. Once the details are gathered, your case can be presented in a positive light.