Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Tom Wm. Odom, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Mitchell A. Egber, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
In this appeal from his conviction for carrying a concealed weapon, appellant, Ivan Santiago, contends that the trial court erred when, in answering a jury question, it informed the jury that carrying a concealed weapon in one's residence violated the concealed weapons law. To the contrary, the concealed weapons law does not apply to weapons in the home. We reverse.
An undercover police officer went to a residence in Palm Beach County to purchase cocaine from Santiago. During the transaction Santiago pulled a firearm from his pocket and displayed it. The undercover officer completed the transaction and left. Two weeks later the officer and other officers went to the house to execute a search warrant. Santiago was present at the residence, and the officer recognized him. A gun was recovered in a search of the residence and appeared to be the same weapon which Santiago had earlier displayed.
Santiago was subsequently charged with: 1) trafficking in cocaine in an amount of 28 grams but less than 200 grams; 2) sale of cocaine while armed; 3) carrying a concealed firearm ; and 4) possession of a firearm by a minor. This appeal concerns only the concealed weapons charge which was tried before a jury.
In charging the jury the judge read the following instruction:
Count 2, carrying a concealed firearm. To prove the crime of carrying a concealed firearm, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
One, Ivan Santiago knowingly carried on or about his person a firearm.
And two, the firearm was concealed from the ordinary site [sic] of another person.
Thereafter the jury sent out a question: " Does ‘ concealed’ apply to a person in his own residence?" The state asked the judge to re-read the instructions. The judge indicated that he was inclined to say that the answer was, " Yes, the law precludes somebody from walking around in their home with a concealed weapon when there's other company in the home, concealed from the ordinary sight of another." Defense counsel maintained the same position as the state. The court effectively overruled the objection and instructed the jury:
Yes, concealed does apply. So, it is illegal for a person to walk around in their own home with a concealed weapon or firearm in the presence of other people, in the presence of other people.
The jury subsequently returned a guilty verdict for carrying a concealed firearm. Santiago was sentenced to ten-year terms of ...