What Is Florida’s Red Flag Law?
Following the tragic and heartbreaking mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, Florida lawmakers passed one of the most comprehensive “red flag” laws in the entire country. As explained by The Washington Post, a red flag law is a special type of law that allows police to petition to (temporarily) take away someone’s Second Amendment rights on the grounds that they pose an imminent threat. In this blog post, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer provides an in depth guide to Florida’s red flag laws and criminal charges.
A Red Flag Order is Called a ‘Risk Protection Order’ (RPO)
Florida’s red flag statute created an important provision called a ‘Risk Protection Order’ or RPO. As described by the Florida Courts, an RPO is a civil provision that allows law enforcement to take away a person’s firearms on the grounds that they pose an imminent safety to themselves, to another person, or to the community in general.
Only a law enforcement officer has the right to petition to court for an RPO. However, Florida policy encourages family members and other interested parties to contact the police to request them to pursue an RPO when they deem it is appropriate. Police are not required to comply with a family member’s request to file for an RPO—but they are supposed to investigate the matter.
An RPO is a Civil Matter—It is Not a Criminal Charge
A Risk Protection Order under the Florida red flag law is a civil legal order. It is not a criminal allegation. When such an order is issued against a person, it will give law enforcement the authority to take their firearms away. However, it does not mean that the person is being alleged to have committed or charged with any type of criminal offense. A red flag law is effectively supposed to be a proactive public safety tool.
When it Becomes Criminal: Violation of an RPO is a Felony Criminal Offense in Florida
Although a red flag order itself is not a criminal matter, the violation of a Risk Protection Order is a criminal offense. In Florida, a person who acquires or possesses a firearm in violation of a valid RPO can be arrested and charged with a third degree felony offense. This is a very serious crime. A conviction for an RPO violation carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As a red flag law violation is a felony offense, a person who has been convicted of such a violation can permanently lose their right to possess a firearm in Florida.
Get Help From Our Orlando, FL Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer is an aggressive, effective advocate for clients. If you or your loved one was charged with a criminal offense for violating Florida’s red flag law, we can help. Contact us now for a confidential initial case consultation. With a law office in Orlando, our attorney handles criminal charges across all of Central Florida.