Have you been arrested for Jacksonville carrying a concealed weapon? Were you charged with Jacksonville possession of a firearm by a convicted felon? If you were arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Jacksonville or possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Florida, you were probably stopped by a Florida police officer. In some Jacksonville possession of a firearm by a convicted felon cases, a person is stopped against his will. In other Jacksonville gun crimes cases, the contact with Florida police officer is consensual. Even if contact with police is consensual before a Florida firearm arrest, it does not mean that the person agreed to be searched.
In Florida, there are three types of police encounters:
- a consensual encounter in which a person is free to leave at any time;
- a investigatory stop (Terry stop) in which the person is not free to leave, but the police officer may only pat the subject down and the officer must have a well-founded suspicion of criminal activity; and
- an arrest that is supported by probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred (or is being committed).
Under the United States and Florida laws, unreasonable searches and seizures are unconstitutional. If a Jacksonville police officer stops or searches you and violates the rules against unlawful searches and seizures in Florida, any evidence that was found can be suppressed. For example, imagine a police officer from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office stops and searches your car and finds a gun in the car. Then, he arrests you for Jacksonville carrying a concealed firearm, because you did not have a Florida concealed weapons permit. If the gun that was found in your car was discovered because of an unlawful search, that evidence may not be able to used in a trial for Jacksonville carrying a concealed firearm. The same thing would apply to a Jacksonville carrying a concealed weapon or a Jacksonville possession of a firearm by a convicted felon case.
The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals heard an appeal in for a Florida gun arrest case. In Regalado v. State, an anonymous person told Florida police that Regalado was in possession of a firearm. The Florida police officer stopped Regalado and patted him down, and he founded a gun on Regalado. Regalado was arrested for Florida carrying a concealed weapon. His Florida gun lawyer filed a motion to suppress the weapon due to an unlawful search and seizure in Florida. The Florida trial court denied Regalado’s motion to suppress the firearm. The Florida appellate court reversed this decision, granted his motion to suppress, and ruled that:
“the only information received by the officer was that the individual had a gun. Possession of a gun is not illegal in Florida. Even if it is concealed, it is not illegal if the carrier has obtained a concealed weapons permit. Although the officer observed a bulge in Regalado’s waistband, which in his experience looked like a gun, no facts and circumstances were presented to show that Regalado’s carrying a concealed weapon was without a permit and thus illegal.”
Since the Florida officer did not have a well-founded suspicion that the Florida criminal defendant was involved in criminal activity, he should not have stopped and searched the Regalado. Every Jacksonville gun case is different, and different facts can change the outcome of a Florida firearm case, so a lawyer in Jacksonville should look at your Florida gun case. For instance, the same Florida appellate court that ruled on this Florida carrying a concealed weapon case did not suppress the gun in a Florida carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon case with slightly different facts. Mackey v. State, 83 So.3d 942 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012).
When a police officer violates the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as applied to the States via the Fourteenth Amendment, it is important to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search or seizure. Contact a Jacksonville Gun Lawyer at 20 Miles Law for help with a Florida gun arrest. A Jacksonville Possession of a Firearm Lawyer with experience suppressing evidence can help you with your Florida gun charges and will investigate whether your rights were violated.