Recently in American news, gun violence has been an active discussion with politicians looking into many legal options to help curb it. One example being looked into is Florida’s red flag law through what is formally known as a Risk Protection Order. After the 2018 Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, lawmakers passed a sweeping gun safety law allowing authorities to confiscate guns from those who pose a “significant danger” to themselves and others. Critics argue it violates second amendment laws while supporters believe it has saved an untold number of lives. With the recent uptick in gun violence headlines, there are talks to expand these laws. Regardless of the debate, understanding the red flag laws can be confusing, but important. Violation of these laws can bring a third-degree felony charge punishable with jail time and fines. Here at the law office of Michael B. Cohen, we can provide a clear understanding and the best defense against any charges.
How does the red flag law work?
Once a safety issue has been established, usually, a law enforcement officer or agency will then file a petition known as a Risk Protection Order. According to Florida Statute Section 790.401, the petition must:
1. Allege that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or to others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition, and must be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts by the respondent;
2. Identify the quantities, types, and locations of all firearms and ammunition the petitioner believes to be in the respondent’s current ownership, possession, custody, or control; and
3. Identify whether there is a known existing protection order governing the respondent under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485 or under any other applicable statute.
The petitioner then must provide notice to family, household members, or any third party who may be at risk for violence and must include that the petitioner intends to petition a court for a Risk Protection Order. Once filed, the court must request a hearing within 14 days where the petitioner will attempt to secure the order to have the firearms removed.
After the court deems the gun owner poses “significant danger” and the order is filed, the firearms and ammunition must be turned over to law enforcement or an authorized third party. The owner will receive a receipt detailing what is being removed and will only be returned once the Risk Protection Order expires or vacates. Failure to follow the Risk Protection Order can result in fines up to $5,000 and jail time of up to 5 years.
If you have been charged with violating a Risk Protection Order the best plan of action is to hire an experienced and effective defense lawyer. Here at the law office of Michael B. Cohen we will provide a complete understanding of your options and provide the best defense against any charges. Call today for a free consultation at 954.928.0059.