In 2018, following a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida enacted an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law. This law creates a process for courts to temporarily suspend a person’s ability to lawfully access firearms if the court determines there is sufficient evidence that the person presents a significant significant risk of violence or self-harm in the near future.
More specifically, Florida’s law authorizes law enforcement agencies to petition a court for a civil order preventing a 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, and 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 an extreme 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
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.
For more information about implementation of Florida’s extreme risk law, also see Giffords Law Center’s report titled Prevent the Next Parkland: A Case Study of the Use and Implementation of Florida’s Extreme Risk Law in Broward County.
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- Fla. Stat. § 790.401, et seq. (enacted in 2018 by 2018 FL SB 7026).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(e).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(2)(e).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(3).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(3)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(11)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(7)(a).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(7)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(4)(a).
- Fla. Stat. §§ 790.401(4)(f), 790.401(3)(a).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(6)(a).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(6)(c).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(8)(a).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(11)(a).