Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida enacted an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law. The law authorizes law enforcement agencies to petition a court for a civil order preventing a dangerous person from accessing firearms for up to one year.1 Law enforcement officers or agencies may file ERPO petitions when they have information that a person “poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition.”2

In order to obtain an ERPO, a law enforcement officer or agency must file a petition in the county where the petitioner’s law enforcement office is located or the county where the respondent resides,3 supported by a written affidavit, signed under oath, containing specific evidence of the respondent’s dangerousness.4

In most cases, the court is required to hold a hearing on the matter.5 If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or ammunition in his or her custody or control, the court must issue a risk protection order for a period that it deems appropriate, up to and including but not exceeding 12 months.6 The risk protection order prohibits the respondent from possessing, acquiring, or attempting to acquire any firearms while the order is in effect.7 The respondent is required to surrender his or her firearms and ammunition to local law enforcement and to relinquish any concealed carry permit to the licensing agency as well.8 If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that there are firearms or ammunition owned by the respondent that are in the respondent’s custody, control, or possession which have not been surrendered, the officer may seek a search warrant to search for the respondent’s firearms or ammunition.9

In urgent cases, a court may issue an emergency temporary ERPO, prior to providing notice and holding a hearing, if the court finds reasonable cause based on detailed allegations in the ERPO petition that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others in the near future by having in his or her custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition.10 The temporary ERPO will generally only be in effect for up to 14 days, before the court holds a full hearing on whether to grant a longer ERPO.11

Florida’s law provides a standard process for respondents to request that an ERPO be lifted12 and for petitioners to request that the ERPO be renewed and extended.13

Upon termination of the ERPO, the agency holding any of the respondent’s weapons will return them to the respondent after performing a background check to ensure the respondent is legally permitted to possess firearms.14

Florida makes it a third-degree felony to make a material false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an ERPO hearing.15

For more information about ERPO laws, visit our Extreme Risk Protection Orders policy page.

Seizing Firearms Before Involuntary Mental Health Examination

In 2018, Florida adopted a law authorizing law enforcement officers to seize firearms and ammunition from people being taken into custody for an involuntary mental health examination.16 Law enforcement officers may request voluntary surrender of firearms or ammunition from people meeting the criteria for an examination, or they “may seize and hold a firearm or any ammunition the person possesses at the time of taking him or her into custody if the person poses a potential danger to himself or herself or others and has made a credible threat of violence against another person.”17

Firearms or ammunition seized pursuant to this law must generally be made available for return no later than 24 hours after the person taken into custody can document that he or she is no longer subject to involuntary examination and has been released or discharged, unless a risk protection order (see above) directs the law enforcement agency to hold the firearms or ammunition for a longer period, or unless the person has become prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or owning firearms.18

Disarming Other Prohibited People

Florida has no other law requiring the removal of firearms from, or the surrender of firearms by, persons who have become prohibited from possessing firearms, including domestic abusers. Florida does, however, consider it a violation of a protective order to refuse to surrender firearms if the court that issued the protective order ordered the abuser to do so.19

Notes
  1. Fla. Stat. § 790.401, et seq. (enacted in 2018 by 2018 FL SB 7026). ⤴︎
  2. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(e). ⤴︎
  3. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(b). ⤴︎
  4. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(e). ⤴︎
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(3). ⤴︎
  6. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(3)(b). ⤴︎
  7. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(11)(b). ⤴︎
  8. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(7)(a). ⤴︎
  9. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(7)(b). ⤴︎
  10. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(4)(a). ⤴︎
  11. Fla. Stat. §§ 790.401(4)(f), 790.401(3)(a). ⤴︎
  12. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(6)(a). ⤴︎
  13. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(6)(c). ⤴︎
  14. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(8)(a). ⤴︎
  15. Fla. Stat. § 790.401(11)(a). ⤴︎
  16. Fla. Stat. §394.463(2)(d). ⤴︎
  17. Fla. Stat. § 394.463(2)(d)(1)-(2). ⤴︎
  18. Fla. Stat. § 394.463(2)(d)(3). ⤴︎
  19. Fla. Stat. § 741.31(4)(a)(8). ⤴︎