How to Avoid Legal Trouble When Traveling With Firearms
Is it legal to bring a gun to an airport in Florida? As with so many laws about firearms, it depends. When you see all the warnings in the airport about not transporting forbidden items in carry-on bags or checked luggage, you might assume that making an honest mistake in how you transport the weapon that you purchased legally could land you a prison sentence and the loss of your right to own firearms. This is not always the case. While illegal possession of firearms is a crime subject to criminal penalties, and while jurors might view someone who gets caught with an illegal firearm in an airport more negatively than someone who gets caught with an illegal firearm somewhere else, the details matter in every criminal case, and almost all of the details have to point to your guilt, or else the jury must acquit you. If your legal problems started when airport security found a gun in your luggage, contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer.
Florida Laws on Transporting Weapons in Airports
If you legally own a firearm, Florida law allows you to transport it on flights departing from Florida airports. To do so, the weapon must be transported unloaded in your checked luggage. If you transport ammunition, you must store it separately from the weapon, but the gun and the ammunition can be in two separate boxes in the same suitcase. The penalties for transporting a weapon in carry-on luggage or transporting a loaded weapon in checked luggage are civil fines that can add up to thousands of dollars, but improper storage of a legal weapon in an airport does not, by itself, amount to a crime.
Criminal cases involving the transportation of guns tend to fall into two categories. In some cases, the defendant transports the weapon in a way that complies with Florida law, but she is flying to a state with stricter laws about transporting one’s own weapon, so she gets arrested in the destination state for doing something that is legal in Florida. (Similarly, your modestly sized bag of weed may be legal in Tampa, but if you travel to Kansas with it, you can get charged with drug possession.)
In the other scenario, the fact that the gun is in your carry-on luggage is not the only problem. Some arrests for transporting guns in airports have to do with the fact that the defendant had bought the gun illegally or had failed to surrender it after receiving a felony conviction. Gun crimes such as armed robbery or assault with a deadly weapon are as illegal in airports as they are everywhere else. A criminal defense lawyer can help you persuade the court that what the prosecution alleges was a crime was a simple mistake by a law-abiding person.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of illegal possession of a firearm in an airport or illegally transporting a lawfully owned weapon. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.