DNA Insufficient to Prove Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon Charge in Florida

Recent articles and financial reports from gun manufacturers have made it clear that gun purchases have significantly increased over the last several months. As more people purchase guns, it is important to understand the laws surrounding firearms as Florida has some very serious gun laws that come with very serious penalties. One such law that comes with a serious mandatory minimum prison sentence is the Florida law that says that a person who has been convicted of a felony in any state cannot possess a firearm in Florida. Possession means not just the obvious act of holding the firearm or having it in one’s pocket or waistband but can also include constructive possession where a person does not actually have the firearm on him/her but has it a place where the evidence suggests he/she knows it is there and has control over the firearm.

In a recent possession of a firearm by a convicted felon case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the police searched the defendant’s apartment and found a gun under the mattress in one of the rooms. The defendant lived in the apartment with two other people. The police were able to get DNA from the grip of the gun, and it came back to the defendant. The defendant had been convicted of a felony crime several months prior to the police finding the gun.

The state charged him with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon since he was recently convicted of a felony and the police found a gun in his apartment with his DNA. The criminal defense lawyer argued that there were other people in the apartment, and the gun belonged to one of them. Additionally, although there was DNA on the gun, the state’s forensics expert could not say when that DNA was transferred to the gun. It was possible that the defendant handled the gun before he was recently convicted of a felony.

The case was ultimately thrown out. The fact that the gun was in the defendant’s apartment was not sufficient to prove constructive possession because it just as easily could have belonged to the other residents of the apartment. The DNA proved that the defendant had touched the gun, but it did not prove that the defendant had touched the gun since recently becoming a convicted felon. As a result, the state could not prove the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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