Emergency Substantial Risk Orders (ESRO)
What is an Emergency Substantial Risk Order?
The Code of Virginia (§ 19.2-152.13) provides that under limited emergency situations, firearms may be temporarily relinquished to law enforcement, pursuant to an Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO). The Code of Virginia precludes citizens from obtaining an ESRO on their own and requires the request for an ESRO to be made by law enforcement or an attorney of the Commonwealth after an independent investigation is conducted.
Obtaining an Emergency Substantial Risk Order
To obtain an Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO), otherwise known as the "red flag law", an independent investigation must be conducted by law enforcement to identify probable cause for an ESRO. If the investigation determines a person poses a substantial risk of injury to him/herself or others in the near future by their possession or acquisition of a firearm, we will file a petition for an ESRO with a judge or magistrate. If the judge or magistrate agrees that probable cause exists as described above, they will issue an ESRO that prohibit the person who is subject to the order from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for the duration of the order.
To request an ESRO, please call us at 703-777-1021 (non-emergency) or dial 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.
What happens after the issuance of an Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO)?
- The person subject to the order shall be given the opportunity to voluntarily relinquish any firearm from their possession to law enforcement.
- The person subject to the order shall not purchase, possess, or transport a firearm for the duration of the order.
- The order will expire at 11:59 p.m. of the fourteenth day following issuance.
- If the court is not open, the order will be extended until 11:59 p.m. of the next day the circuit court is in session.
- A court hearing will be scheduled prior to expiration of the ESRO to determine whether a Substantial Risk Order (§ 19.2-152.14) should be issued, which extends the provisions of the ESRO for up to 180 days.
- A Substantial Risk Order may continue to be extended by the court in 180-day intervals if the court finds that the person continues to pose a substantial risk of personal injury to him/herself or to other individuals in the near future by such person's possession or acquisition of a firearm.
- If further information on Substantial Risk Orders is requested, please contact the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
- The person subject to the order may file a motion to dissolve the order at any time.
- Law enforcement shall take custody of all relinquished firearms and provide written receipt to the person and the circuit court.
- Law enforcement may obtain a search warrant for any firearms if they have reason to believe that the person subject to the ESRO has not relinquished all firearms in their possession.