Concerns Over Florida’s Red Flag Laws Have Gone Beyond Constitutional Violations & Into Potential Self-Incrimination in Criminal Cases
Florida’s red flag law – passed after the Parkland school shooting and designed to allow authorities to take away an individual’s guns for a year if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others – has captured news headlines of late as the state begins to obtain its first convictions against those who object to authorities taking their guns away; in part because they are unaware of the existence of the law and are still under the understanding that authorities need to obtain a warrant or a certain amount of evidence before making this type of seizure; pursuant to their constitutional rights.
What’s perhaps even more alarming, however, is the fact that recent data indicates that most (80 percent) of Southwest Florida residents (including Collier and Lee Counties) who are court ordered to have their guns taken away from them under his new law are not represented by an attorney, and approximately 90 percent of them will have lost their guns for at least one year under the law even though the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is one of our basic fundamental constitutional rights. As a result, there are serious concerns that those trying to defend themselves against these orders could end up jeopardizing related criminal cases that may apply to them. News reports have also described a number of individuals attempting to abuse the law by contacting authorities and providing them with false information in an effort to harass others.
Granted Without Evidentiary Requirements, Criminal Charges, Or Evaluations
These court orders have been granted under a standard that is exceedingly easy to meet, without any actual evidence needing to be produced and, at times, only based on ‘word of mouth.’ Law enforcement can move forward and show up at someone’s home to seize these guns without the individual ever being charged with a crime or undergoing a mental health evaluation.
Due Process & Self-Incrimination Concerns
Under the law, the risk protection paperwork is supposed to inform individuals that they have the ability to seek the advice of an attorney, however, in many of these cases, those accused have a mere two weeks before their final risk protection order hearings to find an attorney and build their defense and, of course, law enforcement is represented by government attorneys. As a result, there is no question that the law has fallen short on basic due process rights and perhaps of even more concern; if an individual has a criminal case pending against them, and finds themselves in the position of having to defend themselves against a risk protection order, anything that they say in that hearing could be used against them in their criminal case.
There’s No Time to Waste: Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys
At The Baez Law Firm, we have extensive experience defending individuals whose rights have been violated, and are successful in ensuring that if evidence was illegally obtained in violation of someone’s rights, it cannot be used at trial. Contact our Orlando criminal defense attorneys today to find out more about our services.