Florida Man Admits To Having Gun In Car, Charged With Illegal Concealed Carry
The right to “keep and bear arms” is quite complicated in practice. There are many situations where a person commits a crime simply by having a concealed firearm in a certain place. And when we speak of a “concealed” firearm, that does not necessarily mean the person has the weapon on their immediate person.
A recent case from the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, Montoya-Martinez v. State, provides a cautionary example. In this case, two police officers initiated a traffic stop of the defendant because his taillights were not working. When one of the officers asked the defendant for his license and registration, the defendant voluntarily disclosed there was a firearm in the vehicle. Prior to this, the officer did not see any weapon.
The defendant further told the officer that the firearm was “in-between the seats, wedged in the console.” The defendant then consented to a search of the vehicle. The officer immediately found the firearm wedged in-between the seats. As the defendant did not have a concealed carry permit, he was placed under arrest and charged with carrying a concealed firearm.
The defendant moved to dismiss the charge, arguing that the prosecution could not prove that the firearm was actually “concealed,” a necessary element of the crime. The defendant stipulated that he would plead guilty if the court denied his motion to dismiss, which it did. The defendant, who received probation, preserved his right to appeal on the question of dismissal.
Unfortunately, the Third District proved no more sympathetic to the defendant’s argument than the trial judge. The appellate court explained that a weapon is “concealed” when it is “carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.” Here, the court said the weapon was “concealed” in the sense that it was wedged in the console and blocked from the officer’s initial view by the defendant’s body. So even though the defendant said he was not trying to “intentionally” conceal the firearm, as a matter of law he did.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
Of course, the biggest mistake the defendant made in this case was telling the officers–unprompted–that he had a weapon in the car to begin with. This otherwise routine traffic stop was elevated to a criminal case because the defendant failed to invoke his right to remain silent. The fact the defendant was open and honest with the police did nothing to mitigate the state’s decision to prosecute him.
It is also worth noting that simply having a firearm in a car is not illegal in Florida, even if you do not have a concealed carry permit. You may legally transport a firearm if you are a legal adult and the weapon is “securely encased” or “otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.” In other words, if you need to transport a gun, keep it in a locked case in the trunk; do not wedge it in the center console of your car.
And if you need legal advice or representation from a qualified Tampa criminal lawyer, contact the Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, today to schedule a free confidential consultation.