Rhode Island’s Extreme Risk Protection Order: A Vital Tool for Safety

An extreme risk protection order is a measure designed to help an individual in crisis, and the people around them, to stay safe from gun violence. 

An extreme risk protection order, also called an ERPO, is a court order that temporarily restricts a person’s access to guns. It is designed to help law enforcement intervene quickly in dangerous situations.

Rhode Island Protection Order FAQs

Have a question about Rhode Island's extreme risk protection order?

See below to download these FAQs as a PDF

The first step when seeking an extreme risk protection order is to contact a member of law enforcement and discuss your concerns with them. Law enforcement can then investigate your concerns and request the extreme risk protection order from the court.

Under Rhode Island law, only a law enforcement officer may file a petition for an extreme risk protection order. This includes officers in the police department of any city or town in Rhode Island, or an officer of the Rhode Island State Police.

Once the court receives a request (called a “petition”) for an extreme risk protection order, the court will notify the person and schedule a court hearing about whether the order should be issued.  

If, at the hearing, a court finds that a person poses a significant danger of causing imminent injury to themselves or others with a firearm, the judge can issue a court order that requires the person’s firearms to be held by law enforcement for one year. The person may choose to transfer their firearms being held by law enforcement to a licensed gun dealer, who can then transfer the person’s firearms to certain third parties who are legally allowed to possess them.

Also, the person will not be able to purchase new firearms while the order is in effect.

Concern for the safety of the public or of the person may demand that action be taken before the scheduled hearing date to prevent immediate danger.  

To protect a person or public safety during this time, a judge may issue a temporary extreme risk protection order that restricts a person’s access to firearms before the person has been notified of the petition, and before a full hearing is held. A temporary order will only be issued if the judge has determined that it is necessary to prevent imminent danger.

In Rhode Island, an emergency order is called a temporary order and only lasts until the court hearing on a final extreme risk protection order. Because temporary orders only stay in place for a short period of time—up to 14 days—these orders balance the urgent need for public safety with the due process rights of all involved.

A final extreme risk protection order lasts for one year. At the end of a year, law enforcement may ask the court to renew the order. The order can only be extended after a court hearing.

No. An extreme risk protection order is a civil court order. Its sole purpose is to remove firearms from a person who is at high risk of causing harm to themselves or to others. The court’s decision to issue the order does not cause the person to have a criminal record.

Even if you don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned above, you can still take action in moments of crisis. If you are worried about someone who is showing warning signs of being at risk of self-harm or harming someone else, you can contact a law enforcement officer and ask that they seek an extreme risk protection order.

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