Has someone filed an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) against you?
If so, you may have concerns about how this order will affect you, your life, and your rights. You may not be aware of what exactly an ERPO is or how it works.
Our team at Mike G Law has helped hundreds of defendants navigate their ERPOs and defend their rights. Here, we will offer everything you need to know about extreme risk protection orders in Florida.
What Is an Extreme Risk Protection Order?
An extreme risk protection order is, put simply, a form of gun control. Also known as a “red flag” law, it is an order designed to keep firearms away from dangerous individuals.
Law enforcement or courts will administer an ERPO if an individual has shown signs of endangering themselves or others. Most often, this order applies to people who:
- Display alarming behaviors
- Partake in negligent or reckless firearm use
- Unlawfully possess a firearm
- Threaten themselves or others with violence
- Violate peace or protective orders
- Abuse drugs or alcohol
- Have certain mental illnesses that may make them a threat to themselves or others
The purpose of ERPOs is to prevent tragedies like suicides, homicides, mass shootings, and intimate partner shootings by keeping firearms away from those who are at risk of misusing them.
Under an ERPO, law enforcement will remove any firearms that an individual currently possesses. While it is in effect, the order also prevents said person from purchasing or possessing other firearms. The items subject to confiscation include, but aren’t limited to:
- Stun guns
- Machine guns
This order fills the gaps in many states’ gun control laws, including Florida’s. The ERPO Act allows for direct legal intervention to remove firearms currently in an individual’s possession.
How Do the Courts Administer an Extreme Risk Protection Order in Florida?
Before 2018, only a few states had ERPOs in place. The mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida caused the number of states with ERPOs to increase rapidly. In late 2018, Florida joined these states and enacted its own law.
Who Can Petition for an ERPO in Florida?
Law enforcement officers are not the only ones who can petition for an ERPO. Family or household members can also file if they notice an individual exhibiting dangerous behavior. Some examples of family members who can petition for an ERPO include:
- Cohabiting couples
- Former or current spouses
- Persons in a former or current dating relationship
The petitioner is the one who files for the ERPO. The individual with a firearm in question is known as the respondent.
What Kind of Evidence Does a Person Need to Petition for an ERPO?
There are two types of ERPOs for which a law enforcement officer or family member can petition:
- Ex-parte ERPO: This order covers someone who poses an immediate risk to themselves or others in the near future by having access to a firearm.
- Final Orders (or non-emergent ERPO): Similar to an ex-parte order, but requires more proof and involves loss of gun possession rights for a longer period.
The petitioner must put into writing that the respondent poses a threat to themselves or others by purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm.
The petitioner needs to provide valid evidence for his statement. Some examples of this evidence include:
- A pattern of violent acts or threats
- Recent violations of domestic violence protection orders
- Recent acts or threats of violence by the respondent toward himself
According to Hillsclerk.com, a petition for an ERPO in Florida must contain the following information:
- A statement that declares the respondent as a dangerous individual (this must include an affidavit under oath)
- The types, quantities, and locations of any firearms or ammunition that the petitioner believes the respondent can access
- Confirmation whether the respondent already has an existing protection order
For an ex-parte order, the respondent is not present. In fact, the respondent won’t know about the order until they must hand over their firearms and ammunition.
For all types of ERPOs, the respondent will need to attend a hearing. At this hearing, they can oppose the order against them. A non-emergent ERPO can last as long as a judge deems fit, up to a maximum of one year in Florida.
What Happens If I Am Under an Extreme Risk Protection Order in Florida?
If someone has petitioned for an extreme risk protection order against you, you may be at a loss for how to proceed. An ex-parte one can especially catch you off guard.
But you still have certain legal rights and options available to you. It’s important to contact an attorney immediately with help navigating the legal system.
Here’s what you can expect after receiving an ERPO and how our team at Mike G Law may be able to help you:
What Happens to My Firearms?
If you are under an ERPO, the order will remove all of your firearms from your possession. Law enforcement, a third-party, or federally-licensed arms dealer will take possession of these items. The order also will revoke your Florida concealed weapon license for the duration of your order.
What Happens If I Violate an ERPO?
If you violate an ERPO, you may be subject to a search warrant. If law enforcement discovers you to have firearms, you could face charges of a third-degree felony. An attorney from Mike G Law can help defend you if you’re found in violation of an ERPO.
Does an ERPO Violate My Rights?
Technically, the extreme risk protection order is permissible under the Second Amendment. However, there may not be sufficient evidence or cause for one against you, or a law enforcement officer or family member may have falsely sought an ERPO against you.
Our team at Mike G Law can evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed. We can help you challenge a temporary order or get a permanent one lifted, as well as ensure your legal rights are protected in court.
Contact Our Team Today for Help
If you want to fight back against your ERPO, you need a legal expert to help you understand what’s happening, what’s expected of you by law, and how you can defend yourself in court.
Our team at Mike G Law is intimately familiar with Florida’s ERPO laws. We have years of experience helping clients in similar situations, so we know how to protect your rights within reason.
If you are facing an extreme risk protection order, you should not stand idly by. One of our lawyers will stand by your side and help you oppose your ERPO. Get in touch with us today for professional help!