What happens if you accidentally bring a firearm to the Tampa International Airport?
If you pack your bags in a hurry, you might forget about a firearm in a carry on bag. The TSA screener will discover that mistake as soon as you enter the security checkpoint.
So far in 2020, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners have discovered 360 handguns at security checkpoints throughout the airports in Florida.
The number of people traveling on flights is down about at least half, but the number of firearms being found is about the same as last year.
Over the last ten years, the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm have represented many clients accused of this crime. We work to get the charges completely dropped. If you didn't realize the firearm was in your carry on bag, then you are not guilty of any criminal offense.
Even if the charges are dropped, you might still be responsible for paying the TSA civil penalty which does not require that you had actual knowledge that the firearm was in the luggage.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you during each stage of the case as you fight for the best possible resolution.
How Many Firearms are Seized in Florida Airports?
For the guns seized at the airport in 2020 from January 1st through the end of October 31st, TSA seized:
- 65 firearms at the Orlando International Airport
- 62 firearms at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
- 57 firearms at the Tampa International Airport
- 43 firearms at the Miami International Airport
- 30 firearms at the Jacksonville International Airport
- 9 firearms at the St.Pete-Clearwater International Airport
What Happens After the Firearm is Discovered?
If the traveler has a concealed carry permit, they are often issued a criminal citation for a second degree misdemeanor for carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited location.
Otherwise, they might be arrested for a felony charge of carrying a concealed firearm without a permit.
At trial, either of these crimes requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt that you KNEW you were in possession of the firearm. Not knowing the firearm was in the carry on luggage is a defense to the charges.
If you are innocent of the crime, then a criminal defense attorney can help you fight for the charges to be dismissed on the merits. After the charge is dropped, then you might be eligible to expunge any record of the arrest.
In the past few years, officers with the Tampa International Airport Police Department (TIAPD) have arrested 25 people.
In addition to criminal charges, the traveler might also have to pay a civil penalty to TSA. The notice of the civil penalty might take up to a year to arrive.
If you need to travel with a firearm or ammunition, you should check with the airline in advance. Depending on where you are traveling to, the firearm can be checked with your luggage if you declare it.
Different rules apply depending on which state you are departing to or arriving from. For international flights, the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection explains the requirements.
Attorneys for Criminal Investigations at the Airport
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients accused of accidentally bringing a firearm or ammunition to the airport without properly declaring it.
We also represent clients after their money is seized by law enforcement officers before a domestic or international flight.
Law enforcement officers that seize money at the Tampa International Airport might include officers with the Tampa International Airport Police Department (TIAPD), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Money might be seized before a domestic flight if the officer has "probable cause" that the money is involved in drug trafficking or money laundering.
Money might be seized on an international flight if you have more than $10,000 and fail to file a FinCEN 105 Form to declare the currency.
No matter the circumstances, the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients accused of a crime at the Tampa International Airport.