Discharging Firearm in Public or on Residential Property - Florida Statute 790.15
While driving down the road in rural areas in Florida, one might see stop signs or road signs used for target practice. The signs look like Swiss cheese from years of bullet holes. Individuals who do this commit the crime of discharging a firearm in public.
During Fourth of July or New Year celebrations, many individuals shoot their guns up in the air in celebration. This could be considered a crime in West Palm Beach if it is done in a public place or in a reckless or negligent manner.
What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict You of Firing a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property
For you to be convicted in West Palm Beach, the state prosecutor must prove either:
- You knowingly shot a gun in a public place;
- You knowingly shot a gun on the right of way on a road/street/highway; or
- You knowingly shot a gun over either:
- A right of way of a road/street/highway; or
- Any occupied premises.
A public place is any place intended or planned to be frequently visited by the public. Residential property is not considered public so individuals have taken advantage of this and turned their backyards into shooting ranges. See Collier County Sherriff’s Office Webpage.
This does not mean individuals who build gun ranges in their backyards are able to act however they want. The Florida statute says they cannot fire a gun in a reckless or negligent manner or they will be guilty of this crime.
A gun is defined as “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive[.]” The gun must be knowingly shot; it cannot be by accident.
There are some defenses available. An individual being prosecuted for this crime can assert the legal defense of self-defense. Many other legal defenses to this charge are listed in Florida Statute 790.25.
This crime is a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable up to 365 days in jail with a $1,000 fine.
Shooting a Gun From a Vehicle
It is a crime to knowingly shoot a gun from a vehicle if you are within 1,000 feet of a person. For example, a drive by shooting would be committing this crime on top of the crime of attempted murder. This is a more serious crime than firing a gun in a public place. This is a second-degree felony that is punishable up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What the State has to Prove to Convict You of Shooting a Gun From a Vehicle Within a 1,000 Feet of a Person
The state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were in the vehicle; and
- You intentionally and knowingly shot a gun off from the vehicle within a 1,000 feet of another person.
If the person driving the car or who owns the car, regardless of whether the owner is in the car or not, gives directions to someone to shoot from the car, they are committing a third-degree felony that is punishable up to 5 years in prison with a $5,000 fine. For example, if Tony (the car owner) told Vinnie to take Tony’s car and go shoot up an empty house to “send a message,” Tony would be guilty even though he was not there. This crime is ranked as level 3 under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.
Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
If you have been charged with this serious crime, contact our serious West Palm Beach lawyers. Our lawyers have experience dealing with criminal matters. We serve the South Florida area and we are ready to help you or your loved one today.