High-Risk Protection Orders in Nevada (FAQ)
A Nevada law providing for court-issued orders for protection against high-risk behavior went into effect on January 1, 2020. The statute, known as a “red flag” law, authorizes Nevada state courts to issue an ex parte (temporary) or extended protection order if a person engages in high-risk conduct, as defined in the law. When issued, these court orders restrict an individual’s access to firearms for a period of time.
Other states have laws providing for similar court orders. This type of protection order is sometimes referred to as an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) or Gun Violence Protection Orders (GVPO).
What Is a High-Risk Protection Order?
A court order for protection against high-risk behavior restricts an individual’s access to guns. The court may issue an order as an ex parte protection order or an extended protection order. The two types of orders are effective for different periods of time.
Both ex parte and extended orders require the subject of the order to:
- Surrender guns in the individual’s possession, custody, or control
- Refrain from possessing a gun or having a firearm in the individual’s custody or control (which includes a prohibition on purchasing or acquiring a gun while the order is in effect)
- Surrender any Nevada permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW permit)
High-risk protection orders are civil court orders. Issuance of an order does not constitute an offense that creates a criminal record. However, violation of an order is a criminal offense. If the subject of the order violates the order, he or she may be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, or charged with a greater offense if the violation constitutes a higher level of criminal charge.
Specific statutory criteria must be met before a Nevada court will issue either type of order. The full provisions of the statute are contained in NRS 33.500 through NRS 33.670.
Who Can Ask a Nevada Court to Issue a High-Risk Protection Order?
A member of an individual’s family or household or a law enforcement officer may file a verified application requesting that the court issue a protection order that limits an individual’s access to guns. The law defines family and household members as including:
- A person related to the individual in the first degree by marriage, blood, or adoption (spouse, parent, child, or sibling)
- A person who has a child with the individual
- A domestic partner
- A person with a biological or legal parent and child relationship to the individual (such as natural or adoptive parent, stepparent, stepchild, grandparent, or grandchild)
- A guardian for the individual, presently or in the past
- A person who is dating or in an intimate relationship with the individual
A family or household member filing a verified application must reasonably believe that the person “poses a risk of causing personal injury to himself or herself or another person by possessing or having under his or her custody or control or by purchasing or otherwise acquiring any firearm.” For a law enforcement officer to file a verified application, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the individual poses the same risk.
The person named in an application is the adverse party in the proceeding. A verified application must include specific information. The law does not require an applicant to be represented by legal counsel.
If a person files a verified application for an ex parte or extended order with the intent to harass or with information that is false or misleading, the applicant may be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense.
What Constitutes High-Risk Behavior?
The Nevada law defines high-risk behavior as occurring when an individual’s conduct involves any of the following:
- Using, attempting to use, or threatening to use physical force against another person
- Communicating a threat of imminent violence to himself, herself, or another person
- Committing an act of violence directed at himself, herself, or another person
- Engaging in a pattern of threats or acts of violence toward himself, herself, or another person, including threats or acts that put another person in reasonable fear of physical harm
- Exhibiting behavior that leads a law enforcement officer to reasonably believe the individual presents a serious and imminent threat to public safety
- Engaging in conduct that presents a danger to himself, herself, or another person, while in possession, custody, or control of a gun or while purchasing or acquiring a firearm
- Abusing alcohol or a controlled substance while engaging in high-risk behavior described in the law
- Acquiring a gun or other deadly weapon within the six (6) months immediately preceding a demonstration of high-risk behavior described in the law
In addition, for purposes of the law, a person engages in high-risk behavior if he or she previously was convicted of: 1) violation of a temporary or extended order of protection against domestic violence or sexual assault issued under Nevada law, or 2) a crime of violence (as defined in Nevada law) that is punishable as a felony.
What Is the Difference Between an Ex Parte and an Extended Protection Order?
An individual or law enforcement officer may file a request for an ex parte (temporary) order or an extended order. Often, the applicant files both.
When specific criteria in the law are met, the court may issue an ex parte order. “Ex parte” is a Latin term that means “for one party.” The court has authority to issue an ex parte order with or without service on the adverse party. The court is required to hold a hearing before issuing the order. An ex parte order remains in effect for as long as the court provides in the order, up to a maximum of seven (7) days.
In contrast, an extended order may remain in effect for up to a maximum of one (1) year. The court specifies the period in the order.
The court is required to hold a hearing on an application for an extended order within seven (7) days of the date the application is filed. The law contains requirements for service on the adverse party of an application for an extended order and notice of the hearing. If an application for an extended order is filed at the same time as an application for an ex parte order or within the period of the ex parte order, the ex parte order remains in effect until the hearing is held on the extended order.
An extended order may be renewed for up to an additional one (1) year by the court, if certain conditions are met. The law also provides a process for the person subject to the order and the person filing the application to request modification or dissolution of the order.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas Attorney For High-Risk Protection Orders
The substantive provisions and procedures in the Nevada law governing high-risk protection orders are extremely complex. Since the law also recently went into effect, court actions involving these protection orders require special attention and focus, as well as an in-depth understanding of the statutory provisions.
Las Vegas criminal defense and family law attorney Joseph Gersten welcomes inquiries from anyone needing assistance with the provisions of the new law. Attorney Gersten has the knowledge and experience to assist family members who wish to pursue a high-risk protective order, as well as individuals named as an adverse party in an application.
Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge. To discuss high-risk protection orders in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Clark County, contact The Gersten Law Firm to schedule your free consultation.