In response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, state lawmakers passed a SB 7063 that allows the police to seize firearms, ammunition, and other weapons from someone who is considered a “high risk” of harming themselves or others. Although this gun-control bill is intended to reduce the possibility of future shootings, it also has serious unintentional repercussions for law-abiding firearm owners.
The following are the most frequently asked questions about Florida Statute 790.401 or “risk protection orders” (RPO).
What is a Risk Protection Order?
A risk protection order is a court order that enables a person – known as the respondent – to surrender his/her firearms to law enforcement officials. Additionally, the respondent must forfeit their license to carry a concealed weapon.
Who Can File a Risk Protection Order?
Only police officers and law enforcement departments can file petitions for RPOs in Florida. Yet, if a person believes someone poses a risk by having access to firearms, he/she can contact the police and make a request to file a petition.
The person asking law enforcement officials to file a petition must provide any information to prove that is the best course of action, including evidence like violent actions and threats, as well as mental health issues. The individual must also disclose any guns or ammunition the respondent has.
How Long is a Risk Protection Order Valid?
Being subject to an RPO means the individual is not allowed to possess or purchase guns or ammunition for up to one year. However, the court will ultimately determine the length of the RPO.
Can I Fight a Risk Protection Order?
When a petition for an RPO is filed, a court hearing is scheduled within 14 days and the respondent is notified. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself, with or without the help of an experienced attorney.
The judge will only issue a final RPO if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that you pose a serious risk of danger to yourself or others by possessing a firearm or ammunition. This standard of proof is much higher than the standard for obtaining a temporary RPO.
Keep in mind, if a judge issues a final RPO against you, you still have a chance to vacate the order by requesting another hearing. If you think the evidence does not support the judge’s decision or the judge made an error, you may appeal the decision to a higher court.
What Happens If I Violate a Risk Protection Order?
After the judge issues a final RPO against you, you will be subject to “compliance hearings,” usually within three days. When you appear in this hearing, you must show proof that you have surrendered your firearms and any ammunition in your possession.
If someone informs the court that you have failed to comply with an RPO, then a search warrant will be issued against you. Possessing a firearm or ammunition while being subject to an RPO is a third-degree felony.
If law enforcement officials in Miami or Broward County have filed a risk protection order against you, look no further than The Hoffman Firm to defend you. Contact us today at (305) 928-1669 and request a free consultation.