According to Action News and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, violent crime statistics have revealed violent crimes committed in Duval County are more likely to involve a firearm compared to the rest of Florida. 40% of violent crimes in 2011, the last full year on record, involved a gun while the statewide average is just 25%.
A Conviction for a weapon violations in Jacksonville can result in a permanent criminal record, jail time, and heavy fines. As a result, one may be prohibited from certain kinds of work, may find it difficult to find an insurer, or could be required to relinquish ownership of one’s firearms.
Crimes of violence are criminal offenses that are violent in nature and may involve the use of a weapon, physical force, threats of injury, or injury itself. Many of these violent crimes are felony offenses, meaning they may carry a sentence involving more than one year of incarceration. Other possible penalties include: probation, fines, restitution, community service, anger management, and drug/alcohol rehabilitation. Each sentence will vary greatly depending on the particular offense, the accused’s prior criminal record, and other important issues.
In the case of violent crimes involving firearms, Florida has a gun enhancement law that increases prisons sentences when a crime is committed with a gun. Under Florida Statute § 775.087, 18 felonies, including robberies, sexual assaults, child abuse cases, kidnapping, aggravated battery, acts of arson, home invasion, car-jacking, murder, drug crimes, escapes, and aggravated stalking are subject to a gun penalty enhancement. Depending on the felony, if the State Attorney proves that a gun was involved in the commission of the crime one is accused of, one is exposed to a possible prison sentence of 3, 10, 15, 20 years up to life.
Using or merely possessing a gun in the commission of another crime can add years of prison time, consecutive to and often exceeding the penalty for the underlying charge. Keep in mind that these sentences are the minimum mandatory sentence that will be imposed upon conviction, meaning that the court cannot impose a lesser sentence. The court still has discretion to impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum allowed for the particular offense. The Court also can “withhold adjudication” or defer or suspend one’s sentence.
Many times, weapons charges result from a traffic stop on the highway. In order to stop a car, law enforcement must first have reasonable suspicion that a law has been or is about to be broken. Once the officer pulls over the vehicle, the officer may ask to search the vehicle if there is something in plain sight that gives them probable cause to do so. If the officer sees nothing in plain sight that can be used to establish probable cause, the officer may one to voluntarily submit to a search of one’s car. If one agrees to a search, the officer can search the car and hold any evidence found against one and one’s passengers.
When one is charged with a gun crime as a result of a traffic stop, one needs an experienced attorney who will know the right questions to ask: Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop one in the first place? Did the officer ask to search the car based on one’s race or age? If the officer found a firearm, was it registered and legally functional? Was the gun in the car with one’s knowledge or permission? An experienced Jacksonville gun crimes defense attorney can make sure that these questions and others will be answered and will be able to be used to one’s aid and defense.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Duval violent criminals more likely to use guns, Jamie Smith, ActionNewsJax.com