Florida Gun Owners Still Face Arrest and Prosecution for Innocent Exposure of Handguns.
Florida – -(Ammoland.com)- When Hueris Mora came to us, we did what we always do when contacted by someone who is facing gun carry charges.
We set about researching the charges and circumstances of the incident.
Florida Carry only gets involved in these cases when good people face unjust charges because they choose to lawfully carry defensive arms.
In his case, it was immediately apparent that continuing prosecution by the office of Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, was unjust at best. Our consulting attorneys statewide were in unanimous concurrence that prosecution of this case, despite the clear language of 790.053, was completely baseless. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office must have also known that they were in an untenable position because they quickly agreed to take the possibility of jail time off the table.
Removing the possibility of imprisonment was not an olive branch offered in the interest of justice, it was in fact a Trojan Horse. This underhanded move was their only way to keep prosecuting the case because it had the calculated effect of taking away Mr. Mora's public defender. Once the Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the case had effectively maneuvered to deprive Mr. Mora of legal counsel, an offer was made. An offer so common in Florida that it is considered the standard plea deal…
“You can retake the concealed course to get your license to carry back but kiss your gun goodbye.”
Hueris knew he was getting the shaft despite having done nothing wrong, so he did what nobody before in Florida (that we know of) had done. He didn't sign the deal. This was a brave decision despite having no legal help at that time.
Florida Carry has consulting attorneys who do countless hours of pro bono work behalf of our members. Unfortunately, at that time we did not have a criminal defense attorney in Mr. Mora's area. That's when we reached out to Jesus “Jojo” Rodriguez. He didn't blink. Pro bono defense of a truly worthy young man who needs our help? “Absolutely!” was Jojo's immediate response. Our other attorneys and legal interns rallied together to provide support and Mr. Rodriguez, Florida Carry's newest consulting attorney, drove this case home. The charge of violating Florida's Open Carry Ban was dismissed with prejudiced. We finally won this fight that deprived Mr. Mora of his handgun for nearly six months.
Last year, when 2011 SB 234 was debated in the State Legislature, our elected leaders were told about law abiding gun owners being arrested and thrown in jail for even accidental or incidental exposure of lawfully carried firearms. The State Prosecuting Attorneys lobbyist repeatedly said that “Nobody has ever been prosecuted for open carry.” The fact is that nobody ever went all the way to trial. Many have been prosecuted; this was a case where a good man fought back. If this doesn't meet some lobbyist definition of prosecution, we recommend a new dictionary.
Judge the case docket for yourself: http://tiny.cc/joq5l
It sure looks like prosecution to us.
The Florida Sheriff's Association sent multiple lobbyists in uniform who said that law enforcement officers will use their “proper discretionary powers” and would never arrest someone for carrying a handgun if it became innocently unconcealed. Yet there is a 25 year history of some officers using subjective language in firearms laws to unreasonably arrest law-abiding people who choose to exercise their right to bear arms. In one such case a man lawfully carrying was permanently injured when handcuffs were put on him with such force that nerves in both wrists were severed. All because part of his handgun became unconcealed.
Early last year, Florida's Open Carry Ban was amended to insert the subjective language asked for by the Florida Sheriffs and State Prosecuting Attorneys Lobbyist. This compromised language came with their promise that these incidents would stop. Subsequently Mr. Mora had to spend a night deprived of his freedom in jail and half a year fighting for his rights. Every month we are contacted by other law-abiding people who have been confronted, detained, and threatened with arrest because they were lawfully carrying a firearm in Florida and it “printed” through clothing or became unconcealed.
They have broken their promise and we now call on the Florida Legislature to repeal one of the most anti-gun laws in the country.
Despite the Florida Legislature’s clear intent that people who have lawfully carried handguns, which may become innocently unconcealed, face no charges. As long as the general ban on open carry exists, these arrests and prosecutions will continue unabated.
Florida Statute 790.053 is Florida's very unusual open carry ban, it was a knee jerk reaction when passed in 1987 and it is long overdue for repeal.
We need your membership to make our work possible! Please protect your rights in Florida by joining Florida Carry Today! http://www.FloridaCarry.org/
Florida Carry is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental civil right of all Floridians to keep and bear arms for self defense as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 8 of the Florida Constitution. Florida Carry stands only to represent our members and the over 7 million gun owners of Florida. We are not beholden to any national organization’s agenda that may compromise that mission.
Florida Carry works tirelessly toward striking down ill-conceived gun control laws that have been proven to provide safe havens to criminals and be deadly to law abiding citizens.