The Jake Laird Law: Indiana Gun Rights and the Red Flag Law

April 23, 2021

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

The Indiana red flag gun law, commonly called the Jake Laird Law, was passed in 2005 and amended in 2019. Indiana was the second state in the U.S. to pass a red flag law, which permits law enforcement to seize and retain firearms from individuals who are deemed “dangerous” under the law. Red flag laws have come into the spotlight following mass shootings throughout the country, and Indiana’s law, in particular, has attracted media and public interest after the tragic shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility in April 2021.

The Jake Laird Law in the News

In the wake of the Indianapolis FedEx shooting, local and national news outlets, including the Indy Star and New York Times, published stories noting that the state’s red flag law failed to prevent the April 2021 attack. In the NY Times article, Keffer Hirschauer’s attorney and founding partner, Bradley Keffer, explained how the law as written is limited in its ability to prevent this kind of occurrence.

To understand your Indiana gun rights, it is vital to understand Indiana gun control laws like the Jake Laird law. Here, the Indianapolis defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP explain the Indiana red flag gun law, how it impacts citizens and law enforcement, and what happens when Indiana gun rights are suspended under the law.

An Overview of Indiana’s Jake Laird Law

The provisions of the Indiana red flag gun law are set forth in Indiana Code chapter 35-47-14. The statute defines the process by which law enforcement can seize and retain a firearm (or firearms) from a person who is determined to be dangerous as defined by section one of the code.

The Jake Laird law states a person is deemed dangerous if he or she is considered an immediate risk to self or someone else or if it is probable that he or she will present such risk in the future. Potential future risk can be presumed in cases of an individual with mental illness who refuses to take medication or when documented evidence illustrates the potential for violence or self-harm. Without more, having undergone treatment for mental illness, recent release from a mental health facility, or having a mental health condition that is controlled by medication are not grounds for seizure of a person’s gun(s) or suspension of permission to own and carry those weapons.

How Can a Gun Be Seized under the Indiana Red Flag Gun Law?

When a person meets the definition of “dangerous” as described in the Jake Laird law, a firearm in his or her possession can be seized by law enforcement with or without a warrant. The process for seizing a weapon with a warrant requires a law enforcement officer to submit a sworn affidavit to a court with jurisdiction over the matter. The affidavit must provide the following information:

  • Description of interactions with the individual or another credible person that caused the officer to believe the person possesses a firearm and is dangerous as defined by law
  • Description of the location where the weapon is believed to be located

Based on the information provided by law enforcement, the court then determines if there is probable cause to believe the individual in question is both dangerous and in possession of a firearm. If so, a search warrant may be issued to confirm possession and seize the weapon.

If a weapon is seized, the law enforcement agency responsible must then file a search warrant return that states that the warrant was served and details the number of firearms taken and descriptions of those weapons. This report must also include the date and time the warrant was served and the name and address of the individual from whom weapons were seized.

If a law enforcement officer is in an immediate situation in which he or she believes a person is dangerous and in possession of a firearm, the gun or guns may be seized without a warrant. Within 48 hours, the law enforcement officer who seized the gun(s) must submit an affidavit to the court of jurisdiction with the same information required as if a warrant had been sought in advance. The number and kind of weapons seized must also be included in this report.

The court should review a case of this nature as quickly as possible to make a determination as to whether there was probable cause to seize the firearm or firearms. If so, the court would then issue an order permitting the law enforcement agency to keep the firearm. If the court does not find probable cause to believe the person in question is dangerous, any firearms seized must be returned as soon as possible and no later than five days from the date of the court’s order.

Indiana Gun Control Laws: After a Weapon Is Seized

After a firearm is seized from a person believed to be dangerous by law enforcement, the Jake Laird law states that a hearing shall be held within 14 days or, if that timeframe is not possible, as soon as possible. If the individual who is alleged to be dangerous wishes to request a continuance (delay) of the hearing, he or she may do so for up to 60 days, and the law states that these requests “shall be liberally granted.”

At the hearing, the burden of proof is upon the State, which must prove the alleged facts by clear and convincing evidence. If the court rules in the state’s favor, it issues an order finding the individual in question to be dangerous and prohibiting the individual from owning or possessing a firearm. If the person has a handgun license, that license may be suspended. If the court believes the individual should be referred for involuntary commitment to a treatment facility, it may also order that at this time.

When a court finds against the State and determines that the individual in question was not proven to be dangerous, an order must be issued that states that the person is not dangerous as defined by the Indiana red flag gun law. Any firearms seized from a person deemed not dangerous by the court must be returned within five days of the court’s order or earlier if possible.

Indiana Gun Rights under the Jake Laird Law

When a person’s right to possess a firearm is suspended under the Indiana red flag gun law, the individual may petition the court to review the case 180 days after the court’s order. When this petition is filed, the court sets a date for a hearing to determine if the individual is still considered dangerous under the law and notifies the prosecutor, who represents the State.

In a petition filed within one year of the court order suspending rights, the individual previously deemed dangerous bears the burden of proof and must convince the court that he or she is no longer dangerous based on the standard of preponderance of evidence. If more than one year has passed, the State must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is still dangerous and should not possess a firearm.

A preponderance of evidence is the burden of proof required in civil cases such as this and is less stringent than other burdens of proof, such as proving a claim by clear and convincing evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove a claim by preponderance of evidence, the court must find that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the stated claim is true. To prove a claim by clear and convincing evidence, the court must find it substantially more likely that the claim is true than untrue.

When a court finds that an individual is no longer dangerous under the law, it issues an order declaring that the person is no longer dangerous, reinstates the individual’s rights to own and possess a firearm and any suspended licenses, and orders the agency in possession of any weapons seized to return those firearms to the individual.

If a petition to have Indiana gun rights reinstated is denied, the individual may request a review of the case again by the court after 180 days have passed.

Questions about Indiana Gun Rights: Ask the Indianapolis Defense Attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer

Indiana gun rights will likely continue to be a topic of conversation in the media and conversations about Indiana gun control laws are important. The Indianapolis defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are experienced in interpreting the law and helping our clients navigate it to obtain the best possible result in their case.

If you need help understanding how the Jake Laird law or others apply to you, and you want the best counsel and representation Indianapolis has to offer, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You may call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete this online contact form and a representative from the firm will be in touch.

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