WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Delaware

Statutes: Delaware

View all
Updated: 
April 8, 2020

§ 7703. Emergency hearings

(a) A law-enforcement officer may request an emergency lethal violence protective order by filing an affidavit or verified petition in Justice of the Peace Court that does both of the following:

(1) Alleges that respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing physical injury to self or others by controlling, purchasing, owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing, having access to, or receiving a firearm.

(2) Identifies the location of any firearms it is believed that the respondent currently owns, possesses, has access to, or controls.

(b) The following procedures govern an emergency proceeding:

(1) The Justice of the Peace Court shall hear a request for an order under this section within 24 hours of the filing of the affidavit or verified petition.

(2) The law-enforcement officer has the burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that a respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing physical injury to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing, having access to, or receiving a firearm.

(3) The respondent does not have the right to be heard or to notice that the law-enforcement officer has sought an order under this section.

(c) The Justice of the Peace Court may adopt additional rules governing proceedings under this section.

(d) If the Justice of the Peace Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing physical injury to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing, having access to, or receiving a firearm, the Court shall issue an emergency lethal violence protective order requiring the respondent to relinquish to a law enforcement agency receiving the Court’s order any firearms or ammunition owned, possess, or controlled by the respondent. The Court may also do any of the following through its order:

(1) Prohibit the respondent from residing with another individual who owns, possesses, or controls firearms or ammunition. Nothing in this section may be construed to impair the rights, under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, § 20 of the Delaware Constitution, of an individual who is not subject to the Court’s order.

(2) Direct a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the respondent resides or the firearms or ammunition are located to immediately search for and seize any firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent.

(e) The Justice of the Peace Court shall direct that an emergency lethal violence protective order issued under this section be served immediately upon the respondent by personal service, any form of mail, or in any manner directed by the Court, including publication, if other methods of service have failed or deemed to have been inadequate. The Court shall give a certified copy of the order to the law-enforcement officer after the hearing and before the petitioner leaves the courthouse.

(f) If the Justice of the Peace Court issues an emergency lethal violence protective order under this section, the Superior Court must hold a full hearing in compliance with § 7704 of this title within 15 days. The Justice of the Peace Court or the Superior Court may extend an emergency order as needed to effectuate service of the order or where necessary to ensure the protection of the respondent or others, but the duration of the order may not exceed 45 days.