I’ve been served with an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO).
If you’ve been served with an ERPO, you are considered the “respondent” or responding party. Please make sure you read the papers carefully and fully and make sure you follow all of the instructions and prohibitions in the order.
*None of the information below constitutes legal advice. For legal advice or a legal consultation, you may wish to contact a lawyer. One will not be provided to you for this type of lawsuit, but you have the right to hire an lawyer to assist you.
What should I do after I receive the order?
- Read the papers served on you carefully. The document titled Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order – Without Notice or Extreme Risk Protection Order tells you when to appear in court.
- If you were served with a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order – Without Notice, then you must immediately turn in any and all firearms and concealed pistol licenses to your local law enforcement agency who has served you with this order. This order also prohibits you from having any firearm(s) or from applying for a concealed pistol license.
- You must obey all of the terms of the order. You will have an opportunity to argue against the order at the hearing listed on the order.
What will happen if I don’t obey the order?
If you violate any of the terms of the order, you may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
What if I don’t agree with what the order says?
You have the right to present your case to the judge at the hearing if you disagree with any aspect of the order. The hearing is your sole opportunity to be heard about any concerns or objections you have to the order. To better understand the statute that outlines ERPOs, you can read the Extreme Risk Protection Order statute here.
How long will the order last?
If the court issued a Temporary ERPO before the hearing, it will last until your hearing date (typically 14 days or less). At that time, the court will decide whether to issue an order that can last for one year.
Can I agree with the person who filed the order to end or change the order?
No. Once the order is issued, only the judge can change or end it. You do have one opportunity during the time the order is in place to petition the court to terminate (or end) the order. You would need to file a formal request to terminate with the court and have the petitioner served with your request (or motion) to terminate.
What if I am looking for mental health resources?
If you are looking for suicide prevention or mental health resources, here are some links:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Find Support
Washington State Department of Health – Suicide Prevention Resources
What will happen at the hearing?
At the hearing you will hear the petitioner state why they sought the order (the court will already have a copy of the petition that was filed and you were served with). You will have the opportunity to tell the court why you think the order should not be put in place, if that is how you feel. If you do not attend the ERPO hearing, the court can enter the full order by default—meaning the court gave you the chance to appear and be heard but you did not take it.
You are required to attend any review hearing that was scheduled to determine if you are in compliance with the terms of the order and have immediately surrendered any and all firearms and concealed pistol license.
Should I go to the court hearing?
Yes. If you do not go to the hearing, the judge can extend the order against you for up to one year without hearing from you.
Will I see the person who asked for the order at the court hearing?
Yes, if that person is still seeking the order, they will need to appear at the full hearing.
Can I bring a witness to the court hearing?
Yes. You may bring witnesses or documents that support your case to the hearing.
Do I need a lawyer?
You have the right to consult with and hire a lawyer, although one is not required. One will not be appointed to you for free because this is not a criminal case. You can ask the court clerk about any free and low-cost legal services in your area.
What if I need help to understand English?
At least one week before your hearing date, contact the court clerk and ask the court to provide an interpreter, which will be provided for you at no cost. If an interpreter is not available for your court date, you should ask someone who is over age 18 to interpret for you. Contacting the court with as much notice as possible to schedule an interpreter will help to ensure one is available for you at the hearing.
What if I am deaf or hard of hearing?
Assistive listening systems, computer-assisted real-time captioning, or sign language interpreter services are available if you ask at least five court days before the hearing. Contact the clerk’s office. Find your County Superior Court here.
How do I turn in my firearm?
Individuals subject to an ERPO in Washington State must immediately turn in any and all firearms and concealed pistol licenses to a law enforcement agency.
What is a firearm?
A firearm is defined as a:
- semi-automatic pistol or rifle (or “assault-style” weapon)
- antique firearm
You also must turn in any ammunition and any concealed pistol license you have.
If you own or possess any firearms or a concealed pistol license:
You must immediately give them to the law enforcement officer(s) when they serve you with the court order requiring surrender.
If you do not have all of your firearms and your concealed pistol license with you, then you must give them to the law enforcement agency within 48 hours of the hearing when the order was issued. Call your local law enforcement agency to schedule a time and place to turn them in and to find out the proper procedure they would like you to follow when turning in your firearm(s) and concealed pistol license.
How long will the law enforcement agency keep them?
You are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms (or applying for a concealed pistol license) for as long as the ERPO is in effect, or as long as any other prohibition is in place (e.g. any other court orders or criminal convictions that prohibit you from firearms).
Do I have to pay the law enforcement agency to keep my firearm(s)?
No. Law enforcement will safely store your firearm(s) so that it is returned to you (when eligible) in the same condition in which it was turned in.
Do I have to prove that I have turned in my firearm(s) and/or concealed pistol license?
Yes. Full compliance with the relinquishment of any and all firearms and concealed pistol licenses are required. Upon immediately surrendering to law enforcement, they will give you a receipt showing what you turned in and when, and will file that receipt with the court. You should retain copies of any paperwork or receipts that show that you have complied with the order and the relinquishment requirements.