Who files the petition for an order of relinquishment?
Only law enforcement can file for an order of relinquishment. This usually happens after law enforcement gets a written report from a mental health provider that identifies a person who presents a danger. If the law enforcement agency has a good reason (“probable cause”) to believe that the person is dangerous to him/herself or others, the officer is supposed to do both of the following immediately:
- file for an order from the Justice of the Peace Court to force the person to give up (relinquish) any firearms or ammunition that s/he owns, possesses, or controls; and
- refer the matter to the Department of Justice for possible additional action.1
The Justice of the Peace Court must immediately hear the officer’s request for an order. The person (respondent) does not have the right to be notified beforehand or to be present in the court to object to the order being issued against him/her.2
1 11 Del. Code § 1448C(b)(1)(a)
2 11 Del. Code § 1448C(c)(1)(a), (c)(1)(c)