Have you been arrested for carrying a concealed firearm? If so, you may be able to have your case dismissed through a new diversionary program recently created by the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.
Diversionary programs (also known as pre-trial intervention) are primarily designed for first-time offenders who meet specific criteria. Only the State Attorney can admit you into a diversionary program. A judge or your defense lawyer cannot.
Once accepted into a diversionary program you must sign a deferred prosecution agreement which contains specific requirements such as community service hours, restitution, and/or counseling. Upon successful completion of the program, your charges are dismissed. Any failure timely to complete the conditions of the program results in your case proceeding as it would have prior to your participation in the program.
According to the State Attorney, Defendants charged with unlicensed carrying a concealed firearm (“UCCF”) often fall into two distinct categories. The first are dangerous, unpredictable individuals who present an increased risk of harming others. The second category includes those who are irresponsible, negligent, and/or uninformed regarding firearm laws. For those in the latter category, the State Attorney believes a diversion program is an ideal alternative to incarceration to address the criminal conduct, reform and educate the defendant, and enhance public safety while also reducing system costs.
When determining whether your case is appropriate for UCCF diversion, the State Attorney will consider, among other factors, the totality of the circumstances, any history of mental illness involving acts of violence, as well as any aggravating or mitigating factors. Factors the State considers to be aggravating, and therefore weighing against your admission into the UCCF diversion program, include: (1) an illegal controlled substance is found on your person or in your car; (2) you were in a stolen vehicle; (3) you were arrested concurrently for another offense; (4) the firearm was stolen or is associated with a crime scene; (5) you resisted arrest or were otherwise uncooperative with law enforcement; (6) you are a known gang member or had other indicia of criminal involvement; (7) the firearm was on your person; and (8) you have a prior violent or firearm felony arrest, a prior felony withhold of adjudication, or a prior domestic violence conviction or domestic violence injunction.
Mitigating factors enhance the likelihood of your admission into the UCCF diversionary program. They include: (1) the firearm was acquired legally; (2) you readily advised law enforcement of the presence of the firearm and cooperated fully with law enforcement with its recovery; (3) if the firearm was brandished, it was in response to a credible threat; (4) the firearm was relatively inaccessible if not properly encased; (5) you have formal firearms training; (6) you have a valid occupational reason for carrying the firearm; (7) you previously had made an effort to obtain a concealed weapons permit or you had an expired permit.
If accepted into UCCF diversionary program, you will be subject to the following general conditions which if satisfied, will result in your case being dismissed: $220 in fees and program costs; $40 / month costs of supervision fees; 50 hours of community service; full time employment or school; restricted use of intoxicants; random urinalysis; no firearm possession; and no change of residence or travel outside the county without prior approval. You may also be subject to additional special conditions as appropriate to your individual circumstances, including: firearm forfeiture; completion of a firearm safety course; substance abuse evaluation and any follow up treatment; mental health evaluation and recommended treatment, anger management classes, letter of apology to victim(s); no victim contact; a curfew; and an obligation to testify in court as needed by the State.
The crime of Carrying a Concealed Firearm is a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 5 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. If convicted of Carrying a Concealed Firearm, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties: up to 5 years in prison; up to 5 years of probation; and up to $5,000 in fines. If you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed firearm, you may be eligible to have your case dismissed through a diversionary program. Due to the severity of the offense, you should consult with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who can determine the best way to get your case dismissed. Call me now for a free consultation to discuss how I can help you.