In directive 2019-2, issued by former Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in August of 2019, the procedure to enforce New Jersey’s Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018 (ERPO) was detailed to members of law enforcement. The Act, allows a New Jersey Court, after reviewing all relevant information provided, to issue an Order prohibiting an individual (the respondent) who is presently at risk of causing bodily harm to themselves or others from possessing or owning a firearm or permit or license allowing firearm possession while the Order is in effect. This can be a life saving measure during moments of crisis.
Once filed, the petition for a Temporary Extreme Risk Protective Order (TERPO) is reviewed by a judge, who determines if a court ordered TERPO is justified based on several factors. If the TERPO is approved by the court, a search warrant can also be issued, allowing law enforcement to locate and seize any weapons and ammunition in the respondent’s possession, in addition to any firearm purchaser identification card or firearm permits. If a warrant is not issued the TERPO requires the respondent to turn over these items to law enforcement.
Following the issuance of a TERPO, a full hearing is scheduled before a Superior Court Judge. That hearing may involve witness testimony, review of evidence, and other relevant submissions. Should the judge determine that a Final Extreme Risk Protective Order (FERPO) is appropriate, the Judge will issue the FERPO prohibiting the purchase and/ or possession of a firearm, and prohibit the obtaining or maintaining of any licenses or permits related to firearm possession.
ERPOs may be filed by family or household members, or members of law enforcement acting in an official capacity. This person is called the petitioner. A family or household member may file a petition at the Superior Court, or at a County/State/Municipal law enforcement agency where they will be assisted in filing. A member of the public who is not a family or household member, or a family or household member who is uncomfortable filing an ERPO as petitioner, but who believes that an ERPO may be appropriate, may provide that information to Law Enforcement who can act as the petitioner when deemed appropriate. The petition must be filed in the county where the respondent lives.
For purposes of the ERPO Act, “Family or Household Member” is defined as a current or former spouse, current or former domestic partner, current or former civil union partner, current or former household member, current or former dating partner, or a person with whom the respondent has a child in common or anticipates having a child in common if one of the parties is pregnant. For more information, or to read the Attorney General’s full directive, click here.