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Felon in Possession of a Firearm -Is there a minimum mandatory?

Tampa criminal lawyers are often asked about felon in possession charges and their minimum mandatory sentences.   In shorty, there is a minimum mandatory sentence on a felon in possession of a firearm charge in actual possession cases.

First, it is prudent to discuss specifically what a felon in possession of a firearm entails. It involves a felon, who was previous adjudicated with a felony charge, being in either actual or constructive possession of a firearm. The distinctions between actual and constructive possession of a firearm is important because it is what invokes the three year minimum mandatory with this charge. The minimum mandatory of three years is only invoked in cases where the defendant is charged with actual possession of a firearm. Throughout our blog and other scenarios, we describe the distinct differences between constructive and actual possession of drugs, prescription pads and/or firearms.

It’s worth noting that whether the accused is being charged with actual or constructive possession should be clearly spelled out in the charging document. Recent case law from District Courts of Appeal throughout Florida have required the State Attorney’s Office to clearly delineate and spell out in the charging document how they are planning to prove the case. Specifically, whether they are charging it as constructive or actual possession must be specifically identified.

The State doesn’t have the opportunity to attempt to remedy or maneuver around the constructive possession allegation through trial or their presentation to the jury to try and make the minimum mandatory applicable. In order for the minimum mandatory to take place it must be alleged that there was actual possession in the actual charging document itself. A jury finding is also not sufficient for the minimum mandatory to take place. This is critical because it puts the onus and the burden on the State Attorney’s Office to essentially notify the defendant of whether the minimum mandatory will be invoked prior to a jury trial.  Experienced Tampa criminal lawyers will assist in ensuring the State Attorney’s Office has properly filed their charging documents.

If you or someone you know has questions about minimum mandatory sentences and/or felon in possession charges, contact the Tampa criminal lawyers of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We appreciate your time in looking at our Tampa criminal lawyer blog and look forward to working with you in the future.