Can I Buy a Gun in Florida With a Criminal Record?

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution addresses the right to bear arms, which has been a hot button, especially during presidential elections.

In July 2010, the Supreme Court made what the National Rifle Associated called a landmark ruling, when it ruled that the federal right to bear arms for personal use was applicable on the state and local levels.

After the ruling, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that the real challenge would be getting law-abiding citizens access to it, but that does not change the fact that non-law abiding citizens face an uphill battle when it comes to their right to bear arms.

How does having a criminal record history in Florida affect a person’s rights to purchase or possess a firearm?

Florida Restricts Criminals’ Gun Rights

In Florida, if you want to purchase a firearm, you will have to pass a background check, which is run by the Firearm Purchase Program (FFP).

The FFP conducts background checks for manufacturers, importers, and federally licensed gun dealers. The following are reasons why you may be prohibited from purchasing a firearm in Florida:

  • You have been convicted of a felony.
  • There is an active warrant for your arrest (misdemeanor or felony).
  • You are addicted to drugs.
  • You are an illegal alien.
  • You have been adjudicated mentally defective.
  • A judge committed you to a mental institution.
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You renounced your U.S. citizenship.
  • You were convicted of domestic violence, even if it was a misdemeanor.
  • You have been indicted for a crime that involves at least one year incarceration in a prison.
  • You were adjudicated delinquent.
  • Your adjudication was withheld as a juvenile for a felony offense and you are under 24 years of age.

Generally, for someone to purchase a handgun in Florida, none of the above can apply to them. In order to purchase a handgun, you must pass the background check and: 1) be at least 21 years of age, and 2) wait the mandatory three day waiting period.

Even if you have a concealed weapon permit issued by the State of Florida, Florida law still requires that you submit to and pass a background check before you can purchase a firearm. Under 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, 922, this law supersedes Section 790.065(4)(b) of the Florida Statutes.

What if your Florida arrest was sealed? For the purposes of purchasing a firearm in the state of Florida, your sealed arrest may be relevant when it comes to determining if you are eligible, so we suggest that you discuss this with an attorney from our firm.

What if you were a juvenile when you committed the offense? If you were adjudicated delinquent, or if you received adjudication when you were a juvenile for a felony, you will not be eligible to purchase a firearm in Florida until your 24th birthday.

Restoring Your Civil Rights

If you have been convicted of a felony, or if you meet the criteria for a prohibited possessor in Florida, this means you may not be eligible to possess a firearm until your civil rights have been restored. The general rule of thumb is that criminal defendants in this situation cannot have their civil rights restored until they meet the following criteria:

  • All sentences and conditions of supervision have been completed or expired for at least 8 years,
  • There are no outstanding detainers,
  • There are no pending criminal charges,
  • The defendant does not owe restitution, and
  • The defendant does not owe any financial penalties totaling more than $1,000 for a traffic infraction or a criminal conviction.

Note: the above does not apply to individuals convicted in out-of-state, or in a military or federal court.

To learn more about your gun rights under Florida law, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to speak with an experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer!