This summer, a new law went into effect allowing Floridians to carry guns without a concealed weapons license. House Bill 543 officially took effect on July 1, 2023.
Although the permit was fairly easy to obtain (it required classroom instruction, firearm instruction as well as a test), you no longer need a permit to concealed carry.
Prior to the passing of this law, to carry a concealed gun in Florida, a person needed a carry permit or the firearm needed to be in a locked container. The punishment for permitless concealed carry depended on the weapon, but could be a first degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony. Fines included up to five years jail time and up to $5,000 in fines.
Compliance with those rules will no longer be required and the penalties are no longer applicable. Anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida may now carry a concealed weapon in public without training, a mandatory background check and most importantly, a permit from the government allowing them to do so.
The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has supported the new law, but many other groups, including Moms Demand Action and other gun-safety advocates, are worried that it will lead to more mass shootings.
While Florida will now move to be a “permitless carry” state, that is not to be confused with an “open carry” policy. Open carry means you can publicly carry a legally owned firearm that is kept in plain sight or holstered. This is still illegal in the state. It is a second-degree misdemeanor with a $500 fine and/or a maximum of 60 days in jail. But there are exceptions to the rule.
Law enforcement, corrections officers, military guards, and those who manufacture guns are exempt.
While rules for buying guns vary state to state, Florida does not require a permit or license to buy a gun and does not require registration. There is also no limit on the number of firearms you can own or buy in a single transaction. Florida also has no restrictions with magazine capacity for handguns.
You may not carry a concealed weapon at a school, police station, courthouse, airports, sporting events, or polling place; however, malls, stores, parks, rest areas and vehicles are all allowed.
What Happens If You Have An Open Criminal Case for Concealed Carry?
The new law does not yet apply retroactively, meaning that it will not automatically get rid of a charge that originated prior to the new law going into effect. However, you might able to get a more favorable outcome than you would have prior to the new law going into effect.
Each State Attorney’s Office (prosecutor’s) in Florida is handling these “older” cases differently. You should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have a pending concealed weapons charge in Miami, Florida. You cannot assume that your case will simply go away or be dismissed by the prosecutor simply because the law changed.
While some state attorney’s offices may decide to stop taking concealed weapons cases, it is not up to the prosecutors or the defense attorneys to decide the outcome of these cases. The judge is the one who will look at the specific case and determine, based on the law of the time of the charge, and rule accordingly. One can still expect to be charged even though the law has since been changed.
Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.