In Florida, if you're 16 years of age or older, you can own a pellet or BB gun. Using the gun where and when authorized, you won't face any criminal penalties. However, if you willfully, maliciously, or wantonly fire the instrument in a manner prohibited by law, you could be accused of a felony offense.
In this blog, we'll discuss a couple of different charges that can be levied against you for shooting a pellet gun.
Firing into a Building or Vehicle
Florida law makes it illegal for a person to shoot a projectile into buildings (whether occupied or not) and vehicles (when they are occupied). For a person's actions to be considered a violation, they must have been done with either the intent to cause harm or with a disregard for what is right.
Suppose you're driving along a highway, and you take your pellet gun out and start shooting at cars on the road with the intent to injure the other drivers or passengers. In this scenario, you are breaking the law.
For using your pellet gun to shoot into vehicles, you may be charged with a second-degree felony. A conviction can lead to imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Damaging Someone Else's Property
In certain scenarios, firing your pellet gun could also result in felony criminal mischief charges. Under Florida law, this offense occurs when someone willfully and maliciously damages another person's property.
Generally, the level of the charge depends on how much damage was caused. For instance, it's a misdemeanor to cause between $200 and $1,000 worth of damage. The offense becomes a third-degree felony when the damage is more than $1,000.
If the alleged offender has been previously convicted of an offense under this statute and the current offense results in less than $1,000 worth of damage, it becomes a third-degree felony.
In certain circumstances, regardless of the amount of damage caused, a third-degree felony charge may also be levied. Such situations include:
- When the property damaged is a place of worship or a religious article
- When the damage is caused to equipment used for telephone communications and the act causes the telephone to become inoperative
- When the property damaged is a sexually violent predator facility or an object within the institution
In Florida, a third-degree felony is penalized by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.