Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people defend against
Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property allegations

SLG Law has experienced criminal defense attorneys who represent citizens charged with discharging a firearm in public or on residential property. Firearms offenses are treated very harshly in the State of Florida.  There are many statutes that work together to give a prosecutor leverage when it comes to firearms cases.  Many of those statutes carry minimum mandatory sentences and/or enhancements.  Although Discharging a Firearm in Public or Residential Property does not carry a minimum mandatory sentence, it is still a very serious charge that should be properly defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Give our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers a call today to discuss your criminal firearm case.  

What is Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property?

The Florida Legislature has taken the position that any discharge of a firearm in public is a serious safety concern for citizens and therefore they made it a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail to simply discharge a firearm in public or on residential property, even if there was no intent to hurt or scare anybody.  This means that if you are in a residential area and fire a gun in the air on New Year's Eve to celebrate, you could be convicted of a first degree misdemeanor.  If you fire a gun from a car, or direct someone else to do it, and nobody is within 1000 feet, it is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  If you fire a gun from a car, or direct someone else to do it, within 1000 feet of a person, it is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  So, any discharge of a firearm in a location that is not specifically designed for shooting (i.e. shooting range, hunting ground, etc.) could lead to serious legal consequences.  

Discharging a firearm in public or on residential property is defined in Florida Statute 790.15.  To prove the crime of Discharging a firearm in public or on residential property, the State must prove:

You knowingly discharged a firearm in a public place,

or

knowingly discharged a firearm on or over the right of way of a paved public road, highway, or street,

or

knowingly discharged a firearm over an occupied premises,

or

 recklessly or negligently discharged a firearm outdoors on property used primarily as the site of a dwelling or zoned exclusively for residential use



What is a "public place?"

Whether you discharged the firearm in a public place would be both a question of law and a question of fact.  Your criminal defense attorney could file a motion to dismiss if there is a good faith basis to argue that the discharge was not in a public place, as a matter of law.  For example, if the discharge was in a wooded area.  If an appellate court has previously ruled that the same type of area that you were in is not a public place as a matter of law, a judge could grant a motion to dismiss.  More often, it will be a question of fact for a jury to decide.  It would be up to a jury to determine whether the area where the discharge ocurred was a public place within the definition given to them by the judge.  The definition is:

A "public place" is any place intended or designed to be frequented or resorted to by the public.  


What is "knowingly," "recklessly," and "negligently?"

"Knowingly," "Recklessly," and "Negligently," are all elements of intent.  A state statute will typically require that the prosecutor prove that you had a certain intent.  For example, that you "knowingly" discharged a firearm means that you intentionally pulled the trigger.  So, the State would have to prove that you did not accidentally pull the trigger in order to obtain a conviction for discharging a firearm in public.  A jury would decide whether you acted knowingly, recklessly, or negligently based on the evidence presented to them and based on the following definitions: 

"Knowingly" = full knowledge and intentionally.

"Recklessly" = with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences.

"Negligently" = failing to use reasonable care under the circumstances.


What are the possible sentences for Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property?

Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property is a 1st Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. 

Discharging a Firearm From a Vehicle within 1,000 Feet of Any Person, is a 2nd Degree Felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison

Discharging a Firearm From a Vehicle with no Person Within 1,000 Feet, is a 3rd Degree Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  

Any driver or owner of a vehicle who knowingly directs a person to discharge a firearm from a vehicle can also be convicted and sentenced up to the maximums that the person who fired the gun can be sentenced.  For example, if were driving a bunch of friends around and one of them was shooting at signs from inside the car, the State could allege that you directed him to do it by continuing to drive him around knowing that he was firing at signs.  If convicted, you would be looking at up to 15 years or 5 years depending on whether he knowingly fired the weapon within 1,000 feet of any person.  

What are the potential defenses to Discharging a Firearm?

Along with the common defenses of attacking the evidence, lack of evidence, and conflict in the evidence, you can provide your own witnesses and evidence.  Other common defenses include that you were acting in self defense, or that the discharge was accidental, and not knowingly.  Another defense may be that you were hunting in compliance with the law and expressly approved by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service. 

If you or a loved one has been charged or accused of Discharging a Firearm,

Call SLG Law's Criminal Defense Lawyers Now!

Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys 

904-642-3332 (Jacksonville)

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