If you were served an ERPO, you are known as the respondent of the order. As a respondent, you are required to follow the directions of the order and turn in your weapons as instructed. For the duration of the ERPO, it is illegal to possess or purchase a firearm, and background check systems will be updated to prevent firearm purchases.
This section explains what an ERPO means for respondents, what steps typically need to be taken as the respondent, and what protections are available for respondents.
I was served an ERPO. What does this mean?
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil court order that temporarily restricts an individual from possessing or obtaining firearms for the duration of the order, and requires them to relinquish any firearms that they possess at the time of the order.
Why ERPO Petitions are Filed and Ordered
ERPO petitions are filed when someone is believed to be, because of their behaviors, at significant risk of harming themselves or others in the near future. Behaviors that might show such a risk include, but are not limited to: acts or threats of violence, acts or threats of of self harm, reckless brandishing of firearms, and substance abuse.
Who Can File an ERPO Petition
State laws vary on who can file an ERPO petition. In every state with an ERPO law, law enforcement may file an ERPO petition. Many states allow intimate partners, family or household members to file as well, and some states also allow for others, such as healthcare providers or education workers, to file an ERPO petition.
The ERPO Process for Respondents
In a typical ERPO filing, the respondent is notified that an ERPO petition has been filed, and that they are requested to attend a hearing to determine if an ERPO is necessary. Lawyers are allowed to be present, but are not required.
In many states, respondents may be served a “temporary,” sometimes known as “ex parte,” ERPO by law enforcement. Temporary ERPOs are short-term orders, usually only lasting a couple of weeks at most. If you were served with a temporary ex parte order, you must follow the directions on the order to relinquish any firearms you already possess and you cannot purchase a new firearm for the duration of the order.
You will have the opportunity to attend a hearing to respond to the ERPO in court. Following this hearing, the court will decide whether a “final” long-term ERPO should be issued. It is important to note that even “final” ERPOs are temporary, so the language can be confusing.
Whether served with a temporary or final ERPO, respondents are required to follow the instructions of the order. If a respondent doesn’t follow the order, they will be penalized and may face criminal charges.
How Long ERPOs Last
Temporary ex parte ERPOs typically only last a couple of weeks, or even just a couple of days, depending on the state you live in and any special considerations for the respondent, such as if the respondent is required to carry a firearm for their job.
Final ERPOs typically last for up to a year, but this also varies by state. Respondents generally have the opportunity to request to modify or end (terminate or rescind) an ERPO before then. If this request is made, there will be a hearing on the request in which the respondent can make their case.
ERPOs may also be extended or renewed. In that situation, another hearing would take place, and respondents would again have the ability to respond to the ERPO. This process also varies from state to state.
When An ERPO Ends
Once an ERPO ends, respondents will have the right to purchase and possess firearms and retrieve their firearms from law enforcement (if temporarily stored with law enforcement), unless the respondent is prohibited from possessing firearms for a separate reason. Background check systems will be updated to allow the respondent to purchase firearms.
The Rights of Respondents
Due Process and Court Hearings
ERPO laws always include due process protections to ensure that respondents have options when an ERPO petition is being considered by the court. Respondents are notified when an ERPO petition has been filed and ordered. Respondents have the opportunity to attend a hearing before a final ERPO, where they have the right to protest the order. While not required, respondents may bring witnesses or a lawyer to the hearing. If an ERPO is ordered, the respondent will have the right to petition to change or terminate an order before the ERPO ends on its own.
False ERPO Protections
ERPO laws provide protections for respondents if they believe a false ERPO petition has been filed against them. For an ERPO petition to be granted by a court, evidence must be provided for why an ERPO is necessary. It is illegal to submit an ERPO petition with false information to deliberately take guns from someone. Depending on the state, if someone is guilty of falsifying evidence for an ERPO petition, they may face fines or even jailtime.
Court Records and ERPO Duration
ERPO orders are civil court orders. ERPOs do not count toward someone’s criminal record; however, illegal activity may be considered evidence when an ERPO is filed. Additionally, violation of the ERPO may result in a criminal charge.
While this process varies from state to state, respondents may request the court to seal the ERPO records from public view, potentially at any time from the initial hearing, during the duration of the order, and after the order ends.
ERPO orders are never permanent. Final ERPOs typically last no longer than a year, although this varies by state. ERPOs may be extended or renewed, but ERPO orders are not extended indefinitely or permanently.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
If you are experiencing a crisis, please text or call 988.
The content of this website is not legal advice and is only intended for general informational purposes. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.