Orlando is a popular tourist destination, drawing millions of people from across the country to visit the theme parks and take advantage of other entertainment spots. It is not surprising, therefore, that many arrests occur at the Orlando International Airport (MCO) each year when a passenger leaves home in a hurry without remembering that a firearm or other weapon was hidden in purse, luggage or other carry-on bag.
Florida law is unique to most states, in that, regardless of possessing a concealed weapons permit, a person is not permitted to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm in the passenger terminal of any airport. The statute reads as follows:
790.06 License to carry concealed weapon or firearm –
790.06(12)(a)(14) A license under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into: the inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of an airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft.
What most people do not know, including some criminal defense attorneys, is that when promulgating this law, the Florida Legislature added a “knowledge” requirement to the law. In other words, the State has to be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person “knowingly” brought the firearm/weapon into the sterile areas of the airport. Most of the time, it is quite the opposite. Most people have no intention of possessing a firearm/weapon in the airport, they just forgot that it was there or just simply forgot to remove it. Unfortunately, airport and local law enforcement continue to make arrests for those who simply possess a firearm/weapon, regardless of their knowledge. Many airports have recognized this issue and no longer make arrests according to this statute. However, Orlando International Airport continues to make such arrests.
If you are arrested for possessing a firearm/weapon at the Orlando International Airport, give us a call. At Hale, Hale, & Jacobson, P.A., we have been successful in dismissing such charges when the State lacks the element of knowledge. In other words, for those who admit they had no knowledge of the gun’s presence, were able to have their charges dismissed.
By: Maria Hale