New Jersey’s Extreme Risk Protective Order Act

On September 1, 2019, New Jersey’s “Red Flag” law, the Extreme Risk Protective Order Act, went into effect. This new law allows a family or household member to file a petition with the court in order to obtain an extreme risk protective order for a fellow family or household member. If the court grants a final extreme risk protective order, the individual would be required to surrender his or her firearms.

When someone files a petition, the court can grant a temporary extreme risk protective order. In doing so, the court will look at the following factors:

1) any history of threats or acts of violence by the individual directed toward self or others;

2) any history of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force by the individual against another person;

3) whether the individual is the subject of a temporary or final restraining order or has violated a temporary or final restraining order issued pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act;

4) whether the individual is the subject of a temporary or final protective order or has violated a temporary or final protective order issued pursuant to the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act;

5) whether the individual has any prior arrests, pending charges, or convictions for a violent indictable crime or disorderly persons offense, stalking offense, or domestic violence offense;

6) whether the individual has any prior arrests, pending charges, or convictions for any offense involving cruelty to animals or any history of acts involving cruelty to animals;

7) whether the individual has any history of drug or alcohol abuse and recovery from this abuse; or

8) whether the individual has recently acquired a firearm, ammunition, or other deadly weapon.

If the court grants the temporary extreme risk protective order, the individual will be prohibited from having custody or control of, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition, and from securing or holding a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun, or a permit to carry a handgun pursuant during the period the protective order is in effect. The individual shall surrender firearms and ammunition in his or her custody or control, or which he or she possesses or owns, and any firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or permit to carry a handgun. Any card or permit issued to the individual shall be immediately revoked.

Furthermore, a copy of the order shall be served on the individual and a final hearing shall be held within 10 days of the filing of the petition. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence standard that the individual poses a significant danger of bodily injury to him or herself or others, the court can issue a final extreme risk protective order. In making its decision, the court shall consider the same factors listed above.

If a final extreme risk protective ordered is issued, the individual will be prohibited from having custody or control of, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm. The individual will be ordered to surrender to the local law enforcement agency all firearms and ammunition in his or her custody or control, or which he or she owns or possesses, and any firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or permit to carry a handgun. The individual will also be prohibited from purchasing firearms or ammunition or applying for a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or permit to carry a handgun.

The court can also issue a search warrant for the firearms or ammunition that the individual has custody or control of, owns, or possesses.

In order to terminate a final extreme risk protective order, the individual must file a petition. The court will then hold a hearing and shall consider the factors listed above as well as any other relevant evidence including, but not limited to, whether the respondent has received, or is receiving, mental health treatment.

If an extreme risk protective order has been filed against you, or you are seeking to have an order terminated, it is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney right away. Jason T. Komninos, Esq. offers free consultations and can be reached at (201) 343-4622.