Criminal Defense Attorney in South Florida Explains Extreme Risk Protection Order

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25th Jun 2021

Have you encountered being served with an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) by law enforcements? If you have, you may want to learn more about ERPO and how this could affect you in your everyday dealings.  Once served with this order, you are automatically a respondent to a criminal case and it is important to read the terms as stated in the order.

What is ERPO?

The Extreme Risk Protection Order, or otherwise known as ERPO is one way for the government to enforce gun control.  It is basically a civil remedy to temporarily remove any firearms from a person who is considered to pose harm upon himself or other people. 

A family member or a law enforcement may file a petition before the court to prohibit the respondent from purchasing or possessing firearms. Once there is a demonstrable evidence that such person may bring imminent danger upon himself or others, an ERPO will help in intervening this scenario.

ERPO is also known as a “red flag” law that keeps firearms away from dangerous people. Once an individual shows any sign of endangerment, the courts or the law enforcement may administer the order. The ERPO is usually applied to the following persons:

  • Those who display alarming behavior
  • Those who participate in reckless use of firearms
  • Those who unlawfully possess firearms
  • Those who make threats of violence upon themselves or others
  • Those who violate protective orders and peace
  • Those who abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Those who possess some mental illness that could put themselves or others at risk

What is the purpose of ERPO?

The rationale behind this ERPO is to avoid tragedies by preventing certain people from getting hold of firearms. Given the number of gun deaths, the ERPO is intended to reduce its statistics and certain preventable injuries such as suicides, homicides, or mass shootings.

It basically fills the gaps in South Florida, Florida’s laws on gun control by allowing a direct legal intervention to confiscate or remove any form of firearms that are currently in the possession of an individual.

Who can petition for an ERPO in Florida?

In Florida, law enforcement officers can petition for an ERPO. In addition, family or household members may also make the petition especially if they notice that a person is showing dangerous behavior. The following may file for such petition:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Custodians
  • Cohabiting couples
  • Persons who are in a former or current relationship
  • Current or former spouses

The person who files the petition for ERPO is called the petitioner while the person with the firearm to whom the ERPO is directed is called the respondent. An ERPO petitioner in South Florida, Florida should provide the following in this petition:

  • An affidavit under oath that declares the respondent as a dangerous individual
  • The details of the ammunition or any firearms (type, quantity, and location) which the petitioner believes the respondent can have access to
  • Confirmation whether the respondent has an existing protection order against him

A hearing is required for an ERPO petition. This means that the respondent is required to attend the court hearing where he can oppose the order against him. A non-emergent ERPO can last as long as a judge deems fit, up to a maximum of one year in Florida.

What if you are under an Extreme Risk Protection Order?

A petitioner can file the ERPO ex-parte which means that the petition can be filed without notice to the respondent. If so, it can definitely catch you off-guard and you may be at loss as to where and how you will proceed. This is one of the many reasons why you need to have a skilled criminal defense attorney in South Florida to help you go through your case.

But on the other hand, you still have legal options and rights that you can avail if you are served with this order. All of which can be brought before the court of law especially during the hearing.

When the law enforcement officer serves the respondent with the Extreme Risk Protective Order, the respondent should promptly give up all firearms to the official. In the event that the respondent gets the Extreme Risk Protective Order via mail, the respondent should contact the assigned law enforcement official to facilitate the surrender of the firearms that are under the respondent’s possession. All things considered, the following steps must be followed to transport a firearm to surrender it:  

  • Notify the law enforcement unit, barracks, or station that the firearm is being transported in accordance with the Extreme Risk Protective Order;
  • Make sure the firearm is unloaded;
  • Transport the firearm directly to the law enforcement unit, barracks, or station; and
  • Carry a copy of the Extreme Risk Protective Order that requires the surrender of any firearm when transporting the firearm to the appropriate authorities.

The respondent should conform to the guidelines as mandated by law. It is important that the firearms must be given up IMMEDIATELY to the assigned law officer.