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Legal Information: Maryland

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
August 13, 2019

What is an extreme risk protective order?

An extreme risk protective order is a civil court order requiring an individual to:

  • give up his/her firearms and ammunition to law enforcement; and
  • not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition.1

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(c)(3)

Who can file for an extreme risk protective order?

The person filing for an extreme risk protective order is known as the petitioner. The person who the order is filed against is called the respondent.

You can file for an extreme risk protective order if you are:

1. the respondent’s:

  • spouse;
  • “cohabitant;”
  • relative by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • co-parent;
  • current dating or intimate partner;
  • current or former legal guardian; or

2. any of the following professionals:

  • a law enforcement officer; or
  • a medical professional who has examined the respondent (this includes a physician, psychologist, clinical social worker, licensed clinical professional counselor, clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and mental health nursing, psychiatric nurse practitioner, licensed clinical marriage or family therapist, or health officer or designee of a health officer who has examined the individual).1

Note: The law generally defines a cohabitant as a person who is in a relationship and living with the respondent but is not married to the respondent.2

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-601(e)
2 See Ricketts v. Ricketts, 903 A.2d 857 (MD 2006)

Who can a judge issue an extreme risk protective order against?

A judge can issue an extreme risk protective order against an individual, also called a respondent.1 The respondent must pose an immediate and present danger of causing injury to himself/herself, you, or others by having firearms.2 The respondent can be an adult or a minor.3

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-601(f)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(c)
3Maryland Court’s website

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

In an interim, temporary, or final extreme risk protective order, the District Court commissioner or judge can order that the respondent:

  • give up all firearms and ammunition to law enforcement; and
  • not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition.1

In a temporary or final extreme risk protective order, the judge can also refer the respondent for an emergency evaluation if the judge suspects that the respondent may be suffering from a mental disorder.2 In an interim extreme risk protective order, the commissioner can refer the respondent to law enforcement so that they can decide if the respondent should be taken for an emergency evaluation. The commissioner can make this referral to law enforcement if s/he has probable cause to believe the respondent meets the requirements for an emergency evaluation.3

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a)(3)
2 MD Code, Public Safety §§ 5-604(a)(4); 5-605(c)(4)
3 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a)(4)

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

There are three types of extreme risk protective orders: interim extreme risk protective orders, temporary extreme risk protective order, and final extreme risk protective orders.

Interim extreme risk protective orders: An interim 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. A District Court commissioner handles hearings for interim extreme risk protective orders, rather than a judge.1

An interim extreme risk protective order will expire:

  • on the date of the hearing for the temporary protective order; or
  • at the end of the second business day that the Office of the District Court Clerk is open.1

Temporary extreme risk protective orders: A judge, rather than a commissioner, must hold a hearing to issue a temporary extreme risk protective order. The hearing can be an ex parte hearing or a hearing where the respondent has received notice.

When deciding whether to issue a temporary extreme risk protective order, the judge will consider the evidence that you present and the amount of time that has passed since the events in your petition took place.2 A temporary extreme risk protective order lasts up to seven days after the respondent is served with the order.3

Final extreme risk protective 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 the hearing. The judge can issue a final extreme risk protective order for a period of up to one year.4

1 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-603(a); (e)
2 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-604(a)(2)
3 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-604(c)(1)
4 MD Code, Public Safety § 5-605(f)(1)