Extreme Risk Protection Orders

The purpose of an “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” also known as red flag laws, is to reduce gun violence and protect families. An extreme risk protection order allows a court to temporarily prohibit firearm purchase and possession by someone at imminent risk of harm to themselves or others.

A study by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that more than ten percent of extreme risk protection order petitions were filed in response to threats against multiple victims or of mass shootings. Of that ten percent, the most common threats were against K-12 schools.

Washington Extreme Risk Protection Orders Attorneys

If you would like to file an extreme risk protection order in Washington, contact skilled family law attorney Shana Thompson at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Attorney Thompson carries over 18 years of experience in family law and is knowledgeable regarding all of Washington’s gun violence laws. She is prepared to advocate aggressively for you.

We accept clients throughout the greater Seattle area and surrounding communities including Issaquah, Kirkland, Burien, EdmondsEverett, Shoreline, Ballard and Bellevue. Call (206) 712-2756 to schedule your initial consultation.

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Petitioning For An Extreme Risk Protection Order

Washington law provides that an extreme risk protection order allows family members, current or former domestic partners, dating partners, and law enforcement to petition the court for a protection order against someone who is a risk to themselves or others. To have an extreme risk protection order issued, the individual the order would be placed against must have a firearm. To determine if the order should be granted, the court would consider testimony and evidence supporting the request, including but not limited to whether the person has a history of being suicidal or violent.

If the court grants the extreme risk protection order, law enforcement would have the right to seize the individual’s firearm for no more than one year. In some cases, a temporary order will be issued, after which the weapon will be returned, or a longer order of protection will be issued, and the police will keep the weapon for a full year. The purpose of extreme risk protection orders or red flag laws is to prevent gun-related tragedies such as suicide and murder.

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Are Extreme Risk Protection Orders Filed For Inappropriate Reasons?

Typically, states make it a crime to lie while applying for an extreme risk protection order. This is to make it less likely that an extreme risk protection order request will be abused. Studies have shown that in cases where a party has been untruthful, the courts deny the petition and charge the false filer. For example, in Colorado, a study showed that 86 extreme risk protection orders were filed in 2020. Of those orders, researchers found that only four petitions were mischaracterized. In each of those cases, the petitioner was charged with perjury.

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Extreme Risk Protection Order Process

The extreme risk protection order process varies by state but is generally conducted as follows:

  1. A petitioner files an extreme risk protection order petition. The petition usually requires the petitioner to describe how the respondent is a risk to themselves or others. If the petitioner believes that the respondent is at imminent risk of harming themselves or others, the petitioner can file for an “ex parte” order, meaning no notice is given to the respondent.
  2. If the petitioner requested an ex parte hearing, the court would usually hold the hearing within the same day without notice to the respondent. If the ex parte order is granted, law enforcement will seize the individual’s firearm, and they will be prohibited from possessing a firearm until the final hearing.
  3. The court will hold a final hearing. At this hearing, the respondent and petitioner can present evidence in support of or against the order. The burden of proof is on the petitioner to prove that the respondent is at risk of harming themselves or others.
  4. If the court grants the extreme risk protection order petition, the respondent will need to relinquish any firearms they have and will be prevented from possessing firearms for a specified time, which generally cannot be more than one year.
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Current States With Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Currently, about twenty states have extreme risk protection orders, including Washington. Additionally, the federal government currently has an extreme risk protection order bill in the Senate. The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act was introduced in the House in April 2021 and passed on June 9, 2022, by a 224 -202 vote. Under federal law, a federal court could issue an ex parte order without notification to the respondent for 14 days. Before the 14 days is up, the court will be required to hold a hearing to determine whether a long-term order will be issued or if the order will be lifted and the long-term order denied. Under the bill that passed the House in 2022, federal courts can only issue protective orders lasting 180 days.

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Additional Resources

Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act Of 2021 │ Congress – Visit the official website for Congress to review the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which was passed by the House and may be voted on by the Senate in the coming months.

Washington Extreme Risk Protection Order │ Washington Courts – Visit the official website of Washington Courts to review forms related to extreme risk protection orders.

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Seattle Extreme Risk Protection Orders Lawyers | King County, WA

If you need assistance in petitioning for an extreme risk protection order, contact Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Attorney Thompson has years of experience addressing family law matters. She can help you navigate the process and protect your rights.

Call (206) 712-2756 to secure an initial consultation with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Our attorneys represent clients throughout King County including the cities of Seattle and Kent and the surrounding cities of Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bothell, Burien, Carnation and more.

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