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What does Conviction mean under Florida Statute prohibiting Felons and delinquents; from possession of firearms, ammunition, or electric weapons or devices?

Under Florida Law it is unlawful for a person to own, possess or have in his or her custody, care or control, a firearm, ammunition, or electrical weapon or device if he or she has been convicted of a felony in the State of Florida; has committed a delinquent act in Florida that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult and the person is under the age of 24 years old at the time of the act; convicted of a Felony against the United States; has committed a delinquent act in another State that would be considered a felony in Florida if committed by an adult and the person is under the age of 24 years old at the time of the act; found guilty of an offense in another country or territory which is punishable by imprisonment for a term to exceed 1 year; but this statute or law shall not apply to any person whose civil rights where restored after the felony conviction. See Florida General Statute 790.23. Further, any person who violates this section commits a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. See Florida General Statute 775.082, 775.083 and 775.84.

The State must provide proof of the prior felony conviction, as it is a substantive element of the crime of felon in possession of a firearm. Sinkfield v. State, 592 So. 2d 322 (1st DCA 1192).  The state attorney can provide proof of the defendant’s felony conviction through very easy means. All the state attorney needs to do is show the Judge and then the jury a piece of paper that contains a certified copy of the defendant’s felony conviction. The state is also required to show that the certified conviction in fact is that of the defendant. The state usually does this simple chore through finger print analysis or by simple matching up the finger prints of the prior conviction with a fresh set of prints, directly in front of the jury. This is so prejudicial and such an easy chore for the state to show at trial that common practice has been for the felon to stipulate at trial to the judge that he or she is a felon. The judge then, offers the evidence that the “defendant has in fact stipulated for the purposes of this trial that he or she is a convicted felon!” Monson v. State, 627 So. 2d 1301(1st DCA 1193).

In Florida, if the named defendant charged in a possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon information or indictment had a withhold of adjudication, and then the state cannot prove its case and the charge must be dismissed. This issue of prior conviction is complicated and comes up more frequently when defendants are charged with possession of firearm or ammunition under the perquisite of “has committed a delinquent act in Florida that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult and the person is under the age of 24 years old at the time of the act.” Because the courts have read the language “has committed a delinquent act” literally, and have reasoned that even if “adjudication was withheld” on a juvenile offender, they may still be charged with a Second Degree Felony for possessing a firearm or ammunition in violation of this area of law.

In State v. Menuto, 912 So. 2d 603 (2nd DCA 2005), the court specifically reasoned that “for the purposes of procedural due process analysis of the statute defining the offense of illegal possession of firearms by a felon or ex-juvenile delinquent, “conviction” of an adult felon was not equivalent to “adjudication of delinquency” of a juvenile, and the withholding of an adjudication of guilt of an adult was not the equivalent of withholding of adjudication of delinquency. Therefore, adjudication of delinquency, or withholding thereof, was irrelevant to the concept of “guilt,” as such concept was not incorporated by the juvenile justice system, and withholding of adjudication of guilt of an adult did not preclude subsequent imposition of sentence without finding of guilt of the juvenile. This means that even if the juvenile had not been adjudicated delinquent; rather, adjudication of delinquency had been withheld; he or she may still be convicted of a crime under this law.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or indicted for a felony charge of possessing a weapon, firearm, gun, ammunition or any other device prohibited by law because of a felony conviction contact West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Andrew D. Stine. Palm Beach’s criminal trial attorney Andrew D. Stine has been fighting for those accused of serious gun and firearm related crimes for over a decade. Hire Stine or do the Time.

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