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What Exactly Is An Extreme Risk Protective Order In New Jersey?


An extreme risk protective order is when police are informed that an individual who owns a gun might pose a risk. This is very controversial because the person hasn’t done anything criminal; the mere fact that they have a gun result in the temporary confiscation of the gun from the gun owner. One of the reasons for this is that there have been a number of cases wherein someone was having an emotional meltdown after an event (e.g. the loss of a job, a diagnosis of cancer, a death in the family), and they wanted to go after anyone who has ever been their enemy. This happened recently in New Jersey in a very big way.

In these cases, an extreme risk protective order is like a temporary restraining order to keep people apart, but it’s applied to guns and can be based on something that was said on social media or on someone else’s report of what was said. As an example, there was a judge in New Jersey whose husband was shot and the son was murdered by an who attorney appeared before her and didn’t like her decision. He had been diagnosed with cancer and was going out settling all his scores before he left the earth. He had made some postings on social media which suggested that he was going to be settling some scores. If someone had reported this to the police, they could have applied for an extreme risk protective order and taken away the gun after going before a court.

When Did The Extreme Risk Protective Order Go Into Effect In New Jersey?

The extreme risk protective order went into effect last fall after being passed by the legislature, and after a number of hearings on the matter had gone forward. We took part in some of these hearings and they’re very similar to temporary restraining orders. The standard of proof is the same, which is clear and convincing evidence. They’re looking for the same factors, including risk of possible harm to the public. Someone could say “I think Governor Murphy is doing a terrible job, someone should shoot him,” and that could justify having a gun taken away. This process can be beneficial, but it can also be abused. People who are gun owners don’t want to have the ability to protect themselves and their Second Amendment rights taken away because they said something impulsively in public rather than because they’re an actual risk.

Is An Extreme Risk Protective Order Temporary Or Permanent?

An extreme risk protective order is temporary but indefinite, meaning that it can be withdrawn based on proofs submitted by the other party, but it is going to stay in effect indefinitely. If the courts aren’t convinced that a person should be allowed to have their gun back, then that person simply won’t get their gun back.

Would An Extreme Risk Protective Order Ever Be Denied By The Court For Any Reason?

If the prosecutors can’t make the case that the person is an extreme risk, then an extreme risk protective order request could be denied by the courts. A person can ask the court to have a friend hold the guns while they go through a period of stress so that they don’t have immediate access to a weapon. Additionally, a person could convince the court that they said something jokingly and have no intention to harm anyone.

Are Extreme Risk Protective Orders New?

It is a completely new area in the law and many people don’t even know that it exists. Whether someone wants to seek an extreme risk protective order or defend against one, they are going to want to find an attorney who has both the criminal and the restraining order background to handle these cases. We have a great deal of experience at our firm in both areas and we’ve handled about half a dozen of these brand-new extreme risk restraining order cases.

During this pandemic with people losing their businesses and seeing their life crumble before them, there may be circumstances where it is appropriate for someone’s guns to be taken away from them. On the news today, there was a couple from the Midwest who pointed their guns as protesters who passed by their house. The police have made an application to take their guns away from them, and that may, in fact, be a reasonable thing to do.

For more information on Protective Orders, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (908) 210-9755 today.

The Law Offices of James A. Abate LLC

Get your questions answered – call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (908) 210-9755

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