FLORIDA RISK PROTECTION ORDERS (RPO)
In response to the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, legislation was passed in an effort to protect the public from shootings by restricting firearm and ammunition possession by persons who may be a danger to themselves or others, Florida Statute 790.401. As a result, courts can now issue Risk Protection Orders (RPO).
HOW IS A RISK PROTECTION ORDER GRANTED?
A petition may be filed in the Circuit Court by a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency in the county where the petitioner’s law enforcement office is located or the county where the respondent resides. The petitioner must allege specific facts under oath that gives rise to a reasonable fear that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition.
Once the petition is properly filed with appropriate allegations, the Circuit Court must order a hearing to be held no later than 14 days from the date of the court’s initial order. Notice of the hearing must be provided to the respondent. Additionally, the court may order a temporary Risk Protection Order to be served on the respondent pending the 14 day hearing.
At the 14 day hearing, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others by having in his custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition.
HOW LONG CAN A RISK PROTECTION ORDER BE IN PLACE? CAN IT BE EXTENDED?
If the burden of proof is met at the 14 day hearing, the court can enter a Risk Protection Order for a time period not to exceed 12 months. However, the petitioner may move to extend the RPO at any time within 30 days before the end of the order. Another hearing must be held within 14 days to determine if the respondent continues to meet the requirements for the RPO.
HOW CAN I HAVE A RISK PROTECTION ORDER REMOVED AFTER IT IS GRANTED?
The law allows a person subject to a Risk Protection Order to submit one written request for a hearing to vacate the PPO and may request another hearing after every extension of the RPO, if any. The court shall set a hearing within 14 days of the request to vacate the RPO. At the hearing to vacate the RPO, the burden of proof is now on the respondent to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent does not pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others by having a firearm or ammunition.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I VIOLATE A RISK PROTECTION ORDER?
If a person violates a RPO, it is a felony crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
CAN I CONTEST A RISK PROTECTION ORDER
Yes. The petitioner has the initial burden of proof at an evidentiary hearing. An experienced lawyer can assist you by evaluating the facts and evidence to determine if there is sufficient evidence to meet this burden of proof. Also, you only have ONE opportunity to request to vacate the RPO once it is granted. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the facts and evidence to determine if and when you should file a motion to vacate the RPO.
A Risk Protection Order can be granted by a Circuit Court judge if the petitioner proves by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others by having in his custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition. You have only one opportunity to remove the RPO once it is granted. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate this relatively new law. Please call my office if you have any Questions, https://www.montronelaw.com/contact-us/