South Florida man first to be convicted under ‘Red Flag’ law
A Florida man, who was the first in his state to be charged with violating the “Red Flag” law, was convicted of the charge and now faces up to five years behind bars.
Jerron Smith, 33, of Deerfield Beach, was found guilty on December 6 of refusing to let police confiscate his weapons under the “Red Flag”. It requires certain people considered to be more apt to use their firearms in a crime to surrender their firearms upon law enforcement requests. Smith allegedly refused to do this in March 2018 according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The bi-partisan backed law was passed after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. In order to be invoked, the law requires law enforcement agencies to determine that a person is at an elevated risk to use a firearm in a crime. Once that determination is made, police then have to convince a judge that the person is at a high risk of illegally using their weapon. When a judge signs off, a person has two options: to surrender their firearms to police or give them to an independent person who is authorized to legally possess the weapons, however that person has to agree not to allow the defendant access to the weapons.
Smith was arrested in 2018 for reportedly firing his gun at a car driven by his friend, Travis Jackson, after the two got into an argument over a cell phone. Jackson wasn’t hurt in the incident, according to the Sun-Sentinel. However, police obtained a “risk protection order” under the new law, which they served on Smith after they showed up at his home.
Smith’s lawyer, Jim Lewis, said his client refused to turn his weapons over to police, or give them to an independent person, because he didn’t understand his rights.
“He never had an opportunity to understand what was going on,” Lewis said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He thought he had a right to have an attorney present before the order was executed.”
During his trial, Smith also told a jury that he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
However, Prosecutor Diana Chiorean told jurors that Smith knew his rights and that the encounter was captured on police bodycam, which was replayed for the jury. The deputies are heard telling Smith that he must surrender his weapons but that his lawyer could challenge the ruling at a court hearing.
The jury returned a guilty verdict in less than an hour. Smith also faces an attempted murder charge and is awaiting trial.