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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

What is an extreme risk protection order?

An extreme risk protection order is a civil order issued by a judge that keeps a person, known as the respondent, from having firearms. An extreme risk protection order can only be filed against a person who has a license to carry firearms or a firearm identification card.1

1 MA ST 140 § 131R(a)

Who can file for an extreme risk protection order?

You can file for an extreme risk protection order if the respondent poses a risk of causing harm to himself/herself or another person. Additionally, to file for an extreme risk protection order, you must be:

  • a family member of the respondent;
  • a household member of the respondent; or
  • law enforcement/the licensing authority in the city or town where the respondent lives.1

You are considered to be a family or household member if you are a person who:

  • is or was married to the respondent;
  • is or was living with the respondent in the same household;
  • is or was related by blood or marriage to the respondent;
  • has or is having a child with the respondent, even if you and the respondent were never married or living together;
  • is or has been in a substantial dating relationship with the respondent; or
  • is or has been engaged to the respondent.2

1 Petition for Extreme Risk Protection Order
2 MA ST 140 § 121; Massachusetts Government website

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of extreme risk protection orders: emergency extreme risk protection orders and final extreme risk protection orders.

Emergency extreme risk protection orders: An emergency extreme risk protective order can be issued ex parte, which means that the respondent does not have notice of the case beforehand and is not present for the hearing. An ex parte extreme risk protection order lasts up to ten days until a hearing is held for the final extreme risk protection order.1 However, the judge must hold a hearing on an extreme risk protection order within two days if the respondent files a statement with the court that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, weapon or ammunition is needed for his/her job.2

Final extreme risk protection orders: The judge can issue a final extreme risk protective order after the respondent has received notice of the case and has an opportunity to participate in a hearing. The judge can issue a final extreme risk protection order for a period of up to one year.3

1 MA ST 140 § 131T(a)
2 MA ST 140 § 131S(b)
3 Massachusetts Government website

What protections can I get in an extreme risk protection order?

In an extreme risk protection order, the judge can order that the respondent to give up any:

  • license to carry firearms;
  • firearm identification card; and
  • firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, weapons, and ammunition.1

In addition, as soon as the respondent is served with the order, s/he would immediately have to surrender all of the above items to the local licensing authority that is serving the order.2

1 MA ST 140 § 131S(d)
2 MA ST 140 § 131S(f)