Joseph A. Lombardo
In the State of New Jersey, various types of protective or restraining orders may be imposed for the safety of victims. Victims of crimes like domestic violence or other ongoing abuse might need to be protected from future harm from defendants. A temporary extreme risk protection order (TERPO) is unique because it applies specifically to situations involving firearms.
Typically, to file a TERPO, you must claim that you feel threatened or have been threatened by someone else. You must also allege that the person threatening you or making you feel unsafe has firearms in their possession. Of course, you will have to work with law enforcement and prosecutors to present evidence supporting your claims before a judge.
If someone in your household has one or more firearms and you feel threatened or unsafe, our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys for temporary extreme risk protection orders can help you. Call the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 418-4537 for assistance. We can offer a free case review to get you started.
When Can You File for a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order in NJ?
Filing a petition for a temporary extreme risk protection order is governed by N.J.S.A. § 2C:58-23. According to the statute, a person may petition for a TERPO if they believe the respondent presents a serious risk of bodily harm to them or others by possessing firearms. A TERPO cannot be filed simply because someone close to you has a gun and you do not like it. That person must present a unique threat or safety risk.
Similarly, a TERPO is inappropriate in situations where you believe someone is in unlawful possession of firearms. While you can report the unlawful possession, a TERPO would be unnecessary because the other person is already restricted from possessing firearms and should not have the guns in the first place.
Many times, a TERPO petition is connected to a domestic violence case. Domestic violence occurs when one person within a household, often a spouse or partner, is physically or verbally abusive. The situation may become extremely dangerous if the allegedly abusive partner also has firearms at their disposal. In such a scenario, the abused partner or spouse could work with law enforcement to file for a TERPO, forcing the respondent to surrender their weapons, at least temporarily. Speak to our New Jersey TERPO attorneys about filing a petition.
When someone files a petition for a TERPO, a criminal investigation may very well be initiated against the respondent. At the very least, law enforcement must determine if the respondent is a danger to the petitioner or others. However, a petition for a TERPO might also be filed after a criminal investigation has already started. For example, the respondent could be charged and arrested for a violent offense. Once they are released on bail, the police could file a TERPO petition if they believe the respondent is dangerous and has access to firearms.
Does there Have to Be a Crime for You to File for a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order in NJ?
It is not always necessary that a crime or criminal investigation is involved with a TERPO petition. These petitions can be filed when you know someone has access to firearms and believe they could be a threat. The person does not have to have committed a crime. As such, the laws surrounding TERPOs are sometimes called “red flag laws.” You can file a petition based on unusual or risky behavior – a.k.a. red flags – involving firearms.
The idea of a TERPO is to hopefully prevent gun violence before it occurs. If someone is acting strangely or aggressively and is known to own or carry firearms, a TERPO would make them surrender their guns until an investigation can be completed. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the TERPO will expire, and the respondent may have their firearms returned. Speak to our Mays Landing criminal defense lawyers about your situation. We can help you determine if a TERPO is necessary.
Evidence Needed to File for a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order in NJ
Almost any evidence can be used to support your petition for a TERPO. A judge may grant a TERPO petition if they can be convinced there is good cause to believe that the respondent poses an immediate threat of bodily injury to themselves or others by having firearms. You can even include evidence that does not directly prove the respondent is dangerous but might strongly suggest it.
While you can present any evidence you believe supports your claims, there are certain things the judge might be looking for specifically. The respondent’s personal history is very important to consider as it might suggest dangerous or risky patterns of behavior. A respondent’s criminal history can certainly be used to support your TERPO petition.
Not only that, but the respondent’s non-criminal history may also be used as evidence. For example, any history of violence or abuse towards people or animals that did not necessarily lead to criminal charges can be presented.
You can also present evidence of the respondent’s addiction to controlled substances and alcohol. Similarly, mental health issues both past and present can be discussed. It may also greatly help your case if you show that the respondent is currently bound by other protective orders related to domestic violence or sexual assault. You must also present evidence that the respondent actually has firearms in their possession.
At the end of the day, any evidence you believe supports your claims may be presented to the judge for consideration. These hearings often happen quickly, so it is important to gather evidence as soon as possible. Our Linwood, NJ criminal defense attorneys for temporary extreme risk protection orders can help you remain safe from a dangerous respondent.
Contact Our NJ Attorneys for Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Orders
If you believe a temporary extreme risk protection order is necessary to stay safe, our New Jersey attorneys for TERPOS can help you. Call the offices of the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 418-4537. We can offer a free case review to help put you on the right track.
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