Florida Law Inspiring Confusion As To Prosecution Of Secondary Gun Buyers

Jacksonville’s felons, like anyone, can get angry and want to hurt someone. However, the rights one has as a felon to buy a weapon are stripped, causing felons to use others to buy their weapons for them. If one has been accused of such a gun crime, one should contact an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office are attempting to arrest the buyer of a gun who then gave that same weapon to Benjamin Bishop, the 18-year-old man sheriff’s deputies have charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 28 shooting of his mother, Imari Shibata, and her boyfriend, Kelley Allen. Bishop wasn’t eligible to buy a gun because he had a criminal record, so he asked a friend, also 18, to buy the weapon for him. Authorities have not disclosed the friend’s identity, citing an ongoing investigation.

Both Sheriff’s offices said last week that there was no way to bring charges against the buyer of a gun investigators say was used in an Oldsmar double murder. Instead, the buyer’s case is being referred to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The argument is over a provision in the Florida statutes that appears to apply to so-called “straw purchases” of guns for people who are barred from owning them.

Under a provision of Florida Statute 790, “Any person who knowingly acquires a firearm through purchase or transfer intended for the use of a person who is prohibited by state or federal law from possessing or receiving a firearm” commits a felony.
Law Enforcement said they did not feel the law was not sufficiently clear to arrest Bishop’s friend, even though the friend was allegedly with Bishop when a firearms dealer initially refused to sell Bishop a shotgun. The friend, he said, returned later with Bishop’s money to buy the firearm for him.

The key to determine guilt in a Jacksonville gun crime of this nature is the phrase of the statute “intentional”. Attorneys working on this case have found no prior cases showing the statute being used to prosecute a straw-buyer scenario of this manner, and no case law to explicate how much the friend would have had to know about the specific prohibitions on Bishop’s purchase of a gun.

Under the current state of the law, it is not necessarily that the friend knew Bishop could not legally buy a firearm. Since the state Legislature had not sufficiently outlined the specific information a gun buyer needs to present, situations like convicted felons lying about criminal background when buying a gun could not be prosecuted.

In this case, an experienced attorney could argue that the law has recognizable gaps in reference to straw-buyers. However, those gaps must be filled and decided by the Florida legislature who has the power to make the law, rather than the courts who merely interpret the law. Furthermore, an experienced attorney might be able to show lack of intent or knowledge in giving the weapon to the actual user, causing doubt whether the accused committed any crime.

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:Florida law inspires confusion over whether ‘straw-buyer’ of weapon can be charged, Tampa Bay Times

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