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First person to be convicted under Florida’s ‘Red Flag’ firearms law faces up to 5 years in prison

A Deerfield Beach man who was the first in Florida to be charged with defying the state’s “Red Flag” law has been found guilty and is now facing a maximum prison term of five years.

Broward Circuit Judge Ernest Kollra ordered a pre-sentencing investigation for Jerron Smith, 33, who was accused in March 2018 of failing to allow law enforcement officials to confiscate his weapons under the new state law, which was designed to take firearms away from those deemed most likely to use them to commit crimes.

The so-called “red flag” law was passed in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, one of the few gun reform laws that Democrats and Republicans could agree on in the Florida legislature. Under the law, police agencies are required to establish that a person is at high risk of using a firearm to commit a crime.

Smith was arrested in 2018, accused of shooting at a car driven by a friend with whom he was having an argument over a borrowed cellphone. The victim, Travis Jackson, was shaken but unhurt.

But deputies seized on the opportunity to obtain a “risk protection order” under the newly minted law. When they arrived at Smith’s Deerfield Beach home, the defendant did not fully understand how far his rights extended, or more significantly, how far they did not.

“He never had an opportunity to understand what was going on,” said defense lawyer Jim Lewis, who represented Smith at trial this week. “He thought he had a right to have an attorney present before the order was executed.”

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