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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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December 13, 2020

How do I get a substantial risk order?

Only a law enforcement agency can file for a substantial risk order. A petition cannot be filed unless law enforcement has done an independent investigation that determines that there are grounds to start a case.1

If you are a person who is concerned about the safety of someone else but cannot file to have his/her firearms removed, you may be able to speak to a law enforcement officer or agency to let them know of your concern and ask that they file for a substantial risk order to have the firearms removed.

1 VA Code § 19.2-152.13(A)

How will a judge make a decision about whether to grant the order?

When deciding whether to grant a substantial risk order, the judge must consider any relevant evidence, including any recent act of violence, force, or threat towards the respondent or another person.1 An act of violence force or threat is any act that:

  • involves violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury; or
  • places a person in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.2

1 VA Code § 19.2-152.14(A)
2 VA Code § 19.2-152.7:1

Can a gun violence restraining order be renewed?

Before the final gun violence restraining order expires, an attorney for the Commonwealth or a law enforcement officer or agency can file a motion in writing asking for a hearing to have the order extended. The judge can extend the order for up to 180 days if the judge finds that the respondent continued to pose a significant risk of causing personal injury to himself/herself or another person by having or getting a firearm.1

1 VA Code § 19.2-152.14(C)