The Naples News in Florida is out with an explosive story highlighting one of the many problems with “red flag” legislation that results in the seizure of firearms under an Extreme Risk Protection Order; because the ERPO’s are a civil, not a criminal matter, public defenders aren’t an option for those who want to get their belated day in court and fight for their right to keep and bear arms. As a result, the paper says, about 80% of the “red flag” cases in the Naples area involved defendants who had to plead their case without an attorney by their side.
The Daily News and The News-Press reviewed each of the 66 risk protection order cases Collier and Lee law enforcement officers pursued through October. Of the 66 people named in the cases, 53 did not have an attorney to defend them, according to court records.
In many cases, risk protection order subjects are struggling financially and likely couldn’t afford a lawyer, reporters found after visiting several of their homes.
Legal experts worry that people who defend themselves against a civil risk protection order could jeopardize any related criminal cases they’re involved in.
So not only do you have your firearms taken from you weeks before you get your day in court, but you’re going to have to shell out thousands of dollars in legal fees to try to have your rights restored. If you can’t afford an attorney, one will not be provided to you at no cost to yourself. You’re simply on your own.