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An ex parte GVRO may be sought by a law enforcement officer or immediate family member who submits a petition to a judicial officer during normal court hours.
A court may issue an ex parte GVRO if the petition shows that there is a substantial likelihood that "(A)the subject of the petition poses a significant danger, in the near future, of personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm..." and "an ex parte gun violence restraining order is necessary to prevent personal injury to the subject of the petition or another because less restrictive alternatives either have been tried and found to be ineffective, or are inadequate or inappropriate for the circumstances of the subject of the petition." (55) The court must consider the following types of evidence to determine whether to issue an ex parte GVRO:
The ex parte GVRO shall prohibit the subject of the petition from having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive, a firearm or ammunition, and shall either be dissolved or extended at a hearing to be held within 21 days of the issuance of an ex parte GVRO.
Not later than 21 days after the issuance of an ex parte GVRO, the court shall provide a hearing for the respondent to determine if a more permanent gun violence restraining order should be issued.
A respondent may petition for the termination of a GVRO issue after notice and hearing one time while the order is in effect.
A law enforcement officer or immediate family member of the respondent may request a renewal of a GVRO at any time within the three months before the expiration of a GVRO.
Upon issuance of a GVRO, the court shall order the restrained person to surrender to the local law enforcement agency all firearms and ammunition in the restrained person's custody or control, or which the restrained person possesses or owns.
It is a misdemeanor crime for a person to own or possess a firearm or ammunition knowing that he or she is prohibited from doing so by a temporary emergency GVRO, ex parte GVRO, or GVRO issued after notice and hearing.
It is a misdemeanor crime for a person to file a petition for an ex parte GVRO or GVRO issued after notice and a hearing knowing the information in the petition to be false or with the intent to harass.
The California GVRO went into effect January 1, 2016 and the Washington ERPO went into effect December 1, 2016; data on the implementation of either law are not yet publicly available.
The GVRO is an evidence-based policy that seeks to provide law enforcement and families with a tool to temporarily remove firearms from an individual during times of crisis regardless of whether that person has been diagnosed with a mental illness.
Note: WVTF published an article this month about GVRO laws in the context of college campus shootings.
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