Convicted Felons May Not Inherit Firearms in Florida

Once convicted of a felony, an individual has lost the right to own and possess a firearm. But what happens if a family member dies and leaves a gun or guns to the convicted felon through probate, in a will or other estate plan?

It’s simple–the convicted felon cannot inherit the firearms. They will have to go to another beneficiary, who may not give them to the felon. This issue recently came to light when a convicted felon led a violent standoff that ended with deaths of four children and the felon in Orlando. He had a history of domestic violence and had inherited a handgun, two shotguns, and two rifles after his father died.

Felons Are Prohibited From Owning Or Possessing Firearms

Across the United States, felons are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

Possession of a firearm by a felon is covered by Florida Statute § 790.23. A felon in possession of a firearm is a second-degree felony that may lead to severe penalties, including:

  • Prison for up to 15 years, with the possibility of facing a mandatory minimum sentence if you were in actual possession of a firearm
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Up to 15 years of probation

felon's guns

Two Forms of Possession in Florida

The law considers “possession of a firearm” by a convicted felon in one of two ways:

  • Actual possession: If a gun is in your hands, on your person, in a container you are holding, or otherwise within your immediate reach, you are considered to be “in actual possession” of the firearm. Actual possession of a firearm by a felon carries a minimum prison sentence.

 

  • Constructive Possession: In this scenario, a gun may be located in a place that is in your control or in a spot where you concealed it. In other words, the gun is somewhere you know about and have access to. This type of possession of a firearm carries no minimum prison time.  

An exception to possession of a firearm by a felon is if your spouse or another individual you live with has a gun in the home, but has it in a locked safe or another place to which you do not have access.

Petitioning For Restoration of Gun Rights

It is possible to have your gun rights restored after a felony conviction under certain circumstances. If your conviction was in Florida, you must wait 8 years after completing a jail sentence, probation, and the payments of any fines or restitution. You must apply for executive clemency, which only the state governor may grant. You can also petition for the specific rights to own, possess, and/or use firearms.

If your conviction was in another state, you will have to follow that state’s procedures for restoring your gun rights.  Only then will the state of Florida recognize your rights have been restored. If you have a federal firearm conviction, the only way to restore your gun rights is through a presidential pardon.

Gun Charges Defense

Attorneys defending gun charges will generally try to determine answers to the following questions, which will be crucial to the defense:

  • Where did they find the gun?
  • Did they print the gun?
  • Who owned the vehicle the gun was found?
  • Did the police force a confession from you?
  • Did you even admit that you knew about the gun?

If you’ve been charged with weapons possession after a felony conviction, don’t leave your defense to chance. With over 100 years of combined defense experience, the firearm defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm will work with you to create a comprehensive defense strategy to acquire the best possible result. Start your free case review or speak directly with one of our criminal defense attorneys by calling (407) 228-3838.