Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPO)
Topics on this page
- What is an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO)?
- Who can ask the court for an ERPO?
- Who is an ERPO be filed against?
- Will I get in trouble if I request an ERPO?
- How do I apply for an ERPO?
- How long does an ERPO last?
- What if I disagree with the court’s decision?
- How do I comply with an ERPO?
- What happens if I don’t comply with an ERPO?
What is an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO)?
Effective October 1, 2018, Maryland has extreme risk protective orders, which is a court order that temporarily requires a person to surrender any firearms or ammunition to law enforcement and not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition. Some people refer to this as a “red flag” law. The court may also refer the person for an emergency evaluation (Md. Code, Health-General 10-620 et seq.).
An ERPO is not the same thing as a protective order or a peace order, and there are limits on what an ERPO can do. Note that although peace/protective orders allow the court to order firearms be turned over, there may be a situation where you file a peace/protective order in addition to an ERPO. In this situation, the peace/protective order petition is one form and the ERPO petition is a completely separate form. Learn more about Protective Orders and Peace Orders.
An ERPO is not a criminal charge. Learn about filing criminal charges.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Public Safety, Title 5, Subtitle 6
Who can ask the court for an ERPO?
The “petitioner” is the person asking the court for an ERPO. The “respondent” is the person against whom the extreme risk protective order is filed.
The law is very specific about who can ask the court for an ERPO. The following people can request the court to issue an ERPO.
- Relative by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Someone with a child or children in common
- Currently dating or an intimate partner
- Current or former legal guardian
- Law enforcement officer
- Certain medical professionals who have examined the respondent
Read the law: Md. Code, Public Safety § 5-601
Who is an ERPO filed against?
The “respondent” is the person against whom the extreme risk protective order is filed. The respondent is the person who allegedly poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to themselves or others by having firearms. The respondent can be a minor.
Factors demonstrating possible risk include:
- alarming behavior and statements;
- unlawful firearm possession;
- reckless or negligent firearm use;
- violence or threats of violence to self or others;
- violating peace or protective orders;
- drug and/or alcohol abuse; and/or
- information contained in health records.
Read the law: Md. Code, Public Safety § 5-601; § 5-602
Will I get in trouble if I request an ERPO?
A petitioner who files in good faith is not civilly or criminally liable for filing the petition.
Read the law: Md. Code, Public Safety § 5-602(d)
For medical professionals, Maryland law provides certain exceptions related to privilege in the case of a ERPO.
Read the law: Md. Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings §§ 9-109, 9-109.1, 9-121
How do I apply for an ERPO?
You can apply for an ERPO by filing a Petition for Extreme Risk Protective Order in the District Court. If the District Court’s Clerk’s Office is closed, then you file the petition with the District Court Commissioner. You will need to appear in court for a hearing after you file the petition.
There are no filing fees or service fees for ERPOs.
Learn more about how to file for an Extreme Risk Protective Order.
How long does an ERPO last?
- An Interim ERPO usually lasts until the Temporary ERPO hearing, but not beyond the 2nd business day after issued, unless the court is unexpectedly closed.
- A Temporary ERPO lasts until the Final ERPO hearing, but not beyond 6 months.
- A Final ERPO may remain in effect for as long as 1 year.
The court can, for good cause, extend the term of the ERPO for an additional 6 months.
A final Extreme Risk Protective Order can be modified (changed), extended, or rescinded (cancelled). Learn about how to request a modification, extension, or cancellation of an ERPO.
Read the law: Md. Code, Public Safety § 5-606(a)
What if I disagree with the court’s decision?
What happens if I don’t comply with an ERPO?