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Know the Laws: Washington

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

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A gun violence restraining order temporarily restricts a respondent's access to guns in certain situations to protect him/her and others.

Basic info

back to topWhat is an extreme risk protection order?

An extreme risk protection order is a civil court order prohibiting an individual (called the respondent) from controlling, purchasing, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition.  Extreme risk protection orders are used to prevent the respondent from using a firearm to harm himself/herself or others.*

* Wash. Code § 7.94.010(1)

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back to topWho can file for an extreme risk protection order?

You can file for an extreme risk protection order if you are the respondent’s family or household member or a law enforcement officer or agency.*  You are considered a member of the respondent’s family or household if you and the respondent are:

  • related by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • dating partners;
  • parents to the same child regardless of whether you were married to the respondent or lived with the respondent at any time;
  • living together, or have lived together within the past year;
  • domestic partners;
  • in a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including step-parents and step-children and grandparents and grandchildren; or
  • in a legal guardian relationship – in other words, where you are or were the respondent’s legal guardian.**

* Wash. Code § 7.94.030(1)
** Wash. Code § 7.94.020(2)

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back to topWhat types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of extreme risk protection orders: ex parte extreme risk protection orders and extreme risk protection orders issued after a hearing. 

Ex parte extreme risk protection orders: The judge will issue an ex parte extreme risk protection restraining order if s/he believes that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or others in the near future by having, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.*  The respondent does not need to be in the courtroom or have notice of the case for you to get an ex parte order.  You may just have to swear to the truth of your statements in court.  An ex parte extreme risk protection order lasts for up to 14 days until the next court hearing.**

Extreme risk protection orders issued after hearing: A longer-term extreme risk protection order can be issued after the respondent receives notice and has the opportunity to be present for a hearing in court.  At the hearing, the judge will decide if the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or others by having, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.  An extreme risk protection order issued after a hearing will last for a period of one year.***

Note: The respondent can request a hearing to end the extreme risk protection order once every 12 months.***

* Wash. Code § 7.94.050(3)
** Wash. Code § 7.94.050(5)
*** Wash. Code § 7.94.040(d)(2)
*** Wash. Code § 7.94.040(7)(g)

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Getting the order

back to topHow do I get an extreme risk protection order?

The steps to get an extreme risk gun protection order are similar to the steps to get a domestic violence restraining order, but you will fill out different forms.  When filing for an extreme risk protection order, your petition must include:

  • the specific statements, actions, or facts that cause you to fear future dangerous acts by the respondent;
  • the number, types, and locations of any firearms you believe to be in the respondent’s current ownership, possession, custody, or control;
  • whether there are any known restraining orders issued against the respondent; and
  • whether there are any pending lawsuits or court cases involving you and the respondent in the state of Washington.*

* Wash. Code § 7.94.030(3)

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back to topHow can an extreme risk protection order help me?

In an extreme risk protection order, the judge can order that the respondent not have firearms in his/her custody or control and not purchase, possess, receive, or attempt to purchase or receive a firearm while the order is in effect.*

* Wash. Code § 7.94.040(7)(g)

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back to topHow will a judge make a decision about whether or not to grant the order?

In deciding whether to grant an extreme risk protection order, a judge will consider multiple factors including evidence of whether the respondent:

  • engaged in a recent act or threat of violence against himself/herself or others even if it doesn’t involve a firearm;
  • has a pattern of violent acts or a pattern of threatening acts of violence within the past twelve months;
  • has any dangerous mental health issues;
  • violated a domestic violence protection order, a sexual assault protection order, a stalking protection order, a civil harassment order, a harassment no-contact order, a domestic violence no-contact order, or a domestic or family violence, harassment, sexual abuse, or stalking protection order issued in another state;
  • has a previous or existing extreme risk protection order issued against him/her;
  • violated a previous or existing extreme risk protection order issued against him/her;
  • was convicted of a domestic violence crime;
  • owns, has access to, or has the intent to possess firearms;
  • unlawfully or recklessly used, displayed, or brandished a firearm;
  • has a history of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person or a history of stalking another person;
  • was previously arrested for a felony offense or violent crime;
  • abused controlled substances or alcohol; and
  • recently acquired (bought, borrowed, stole, etc.) any firearms.*

Additionally, during the extreme risk protection order hearing, the judge must consider whether a mental health evaluation or chemical dependency (drug) evaluation is appropriate – and can order either one.**

* Wash. Code § 7.94.040(3)
** Wash. Code § 7.94.040(6)

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back to topCan I renew an extreme protection order?

You (the respondent’s family or household member or a law enforcement officer) can file a motion to renew the order at any time during the 105 days before the order’s expiration date.  The judge will schedule a hearing on your request within 14 days.  The respondent must be served with notice of your motion and have the opportunity to appear in court at the hearing to object to the renewal.  The judge will consider evidence from both you and the respondent to decide whether to renew the order.  If the judge finds that it is more likely than not that the requirements for issuing an extreme risk protection order continue to be met, the judge will renew the order.  The renewed order will last for one year (so long as it is not terminated by the judge).* 

* Wash. Code § 7.94.080(3)

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back to topWhat happens if the respondent violates the order?

If the respondent violates the extreme risk protection order, s/he may be charged with a crime and may not be able to have a firearm for at least five more years after the order expires.*

* Wash. Code § 7.94.120.

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