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Risk Protection Order for Manatee and Sarasota

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was enacted on March 9, 2018. The act created section 790.401, Florida Statutes, “The Risk Protection Order Act.”

The intention behind the Risk Protection Order Act is to prevent individuals who are at a high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms or ammunition by allowing law enforcement to obtain a court order temporarily restricting a person’s access to firearms or ammunition. The administrative order was created for consistency within the circuit when establishing procedures and a single set of forms.

Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2018-09.5, the courts in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit have established procedures for the consideration of petitions for a risk protection order in Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Desoto County.

The first thing you should know about the order is that the court does not have to record the proceeding. Therefore, if you have a hearing scheduled, pay the $100 an hour to bring a court reporter to the hearing so that it can be recorded and a transcript can later be prepared.

You will need the transcript if you wish to appeal an adverse ruling. Without a transcript, you have no hope for an appeal. Additionally, since the RPO can be continued each year for the rest of your life, that transcript might come in handy if you wish to contest the order being continued in the future.

Attorney for the RPO Hearing in Manatee and Sarasota

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing clients served with a petition for a risk protection order. We have been successful in convincing the court that entering a Risk Protection Order (RPO) is not necessary.

The issue at the RPO hearing is whether you “pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to yourself or others by having a firearm or ammunition in your custody or control.” If the allegations in the petition for the Temporary Risk Protection Order are false or exaggerated or do not warrant the RPO, then an attorney can help you contest the RPO at the return hearing.

Our offices are conveniently located in downtown Tampa. We fight RPOs throughout Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas including Manatee County and Sarasota County, FL. Read more about risk protection orders in Pinellas County, FL.

Contact us to learn more about the best ways to fight the risk protection order (RPO). Don’t face the judge alone. Call the RPO defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm at 813-250-0500.

The Risk Protection Order Act

Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2018-09.5, the courts in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit have established the following procedures for the consideration of petitions for a risk protection order in Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Desoto County.

  1. All petitions for RPO’s must comply with the requirements set forth in section 790.401, Florida Statutes.
  2. All RPO petitions and accompanying documents must be in substantial compliance with the RPO forms approved by OSCA and/or the Florida Supreme Court and available on the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website: http://www.iudl2.flcourts.org/Documents-Forms/Risk-Protection-0rders
  3. RPO petitions and accompanying documents can only be filed by a law enforcement officer or a law enforcement agency.
    • All initial filings in an RPO case – a petition, supporting documents and a proposed order – are to be submitted to the judge through the court’s online E·Warrant System.
    • When the RPO is submitted through the E·warrant System, copies of the petition, supporting affidavits and proposed order will automatically be sent electronically to the Clerk of the Court to be filed and a new case initiated, so Petitioner does not need to separately file these documents with the Clerk of the Court.
    • However, all other subsequent documents and pleadings filed by Petitioner in an RPO case must be filed directly with the Clerk of the Court.
  4. When submitting RPO petitions and accompanying documents to a judge for review through the court’s E· Warrant System, three different documents are required to be submitted: a petition; (2) supporting sworn or notarized affidavit(s); and (3) a proposed order.
    • Failure to submit all required documents may result in the submittal being rejected.
  5. There are different procedures for submitting an RPO during regular business hours versus after regular business hours, weekends and holidays. The procedures are detailed below.
  6. RPO PROCEDURES DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS
    • RPO’s submitted during regular business hours will be reviewed by the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge or his/her designee. If a temporary order is requested, ex parte bearings on temporary orders will be scheduled and heard by the presiding judge or his/her designee either the day the petition is filed or the next business day. The presiding judge has the discretion to conduct the hearing by telephone, if preferred, as long as the court is assured of Petitioner’s identity.
      • Petitioner must call the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge to advise that the RPO is pending and to schedule the ex parte hearing if a temporary order is requested. If Petitioner has a good faith belief that a petition for a temporary RPO should be considered by the court immediately because lives could be in danger, it is Petitioner’s responsibility to contact and advise the judge of the urgency and to request that an ex parte bearing be held as quickly as possible.
      • If no temporary order is requested, the presiding judge will enter an order setting a final hearing, if appropriate.
      • If a temporary order is granted, the presiding judge will include a date/time for a compliance hearing (if applicable) within 3 business days after issuance of the order; and a date/time for a final hearing within 14 days after the date of the order.
      • Petitioner will receive a signed order electronically from the E-Warrant System and shall immediately execute service of the petition and any issued order within its jurisdiction, or transmit by facsimile or other electronic method, the petition and order to any other jurisdiction to effectuate service upon the Respondent.
      • The Clerk of the Court will receive a signed order electronically from the E-Warrant System and shall docket the compliance and final hearings as indicated in the order.
      • If the Court’s E-Warrant System is not working during regular business hours, Petitioner should email the court in the county where the petition will be filed and also call the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge to advise the court that he/she has an RPO that cannot be submitted through the E-Warrant System and to coordinate an ex parte hearing, if necessary. In these instances it is the responsibility of Petitioner to file the petition and supporting affidavit(s) directly with the Clerk of the Court that day, since it will not be transmitted through the E-Warrant System. The email to the court must contain the following information:
        • Petitioner’s Name and affiliated law enforcement agency
        • Respondent’s Name
        • Date RPO petition is filed
        • Whether a temporary RPO is requested
        • If a temporary RPO is requested, name of person attending the hearing, email address and phone number where they can be reached on date of filing and the next business day. The email addresses are as follows:
          • Desoto County- RP0Desoto@judl2.flcourts.org
          • Manatee County – RP0Manatee@jud12.floourts.org
          • Sarasota County-RP0Sarasota@iudl2.f1courts.org
  7. Regarding Sarasota County RPO’s Only – All ex parte hearings on temporary orders heard during regular business hours, all compliance hearings and all final hearings on RPO petitions submitted in Sarasota County will be reviewed and heard by the North County Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge or his/her designee; they are not to be scheduled in the South County Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division.
  8. RPO PROCEDURES AFTER REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS, WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS
    • RPO’s should only be submitted to the court outside regular business hours when law enforcement bas a good faith belief that lives could be in danger unless a temporary RPO is considered by the court immediately. In those exigent circumstances, an RPO petition, supporting affidavits and a proposed order may be submitted through the E-Warrant System after regular business hours and during weekends and holidays.
      • When the RPO is submitted through the E-Warrant System after regular business hours, copies of the petition, supporting affidavits and proposed order will still automatically be sent electronically to the Clerk of the Court to be filed, but the new case will not be initiated until the next business day.
      • Only RPO petitions that request a temporary order will be considered an emergency. RPO petitions filed after regular business hours or during an evening, weekend or holiday that do not request a temporary order will not be reviewed until the next business day and will not get an ex parte hearing.
      • Once the three required docwnents are submitted through the E-Warrant System, Petitioner must call the RPO judge designated in the £-Warrant System at the phone number provided in the E-Warrant System (see Contact Information) to advise him/her that an urgent RPO petition is pending. It is Petitioner’s responsibility to advise the judge of the urgency and to request that an ex parte hearing be held immediately. The judge has discretion to determine that the request for a temporary order is not an emergency and to defer reviewing the documents until the next business day. If deferred to the next business day, the procedures set forth in the section titled RPO Procedures During Regular Business Hours will apply.
      • The judge has the discretion to conduct the hearing by telephone, if preferred, as long as the court is assured of Petitioner’s identity.
      • If a temporary order is granted, the presiding judge will include a date/time for a compliance hearing (if applicable) within 3 business days after issuance of the order; and a date/time for a final hearing within 14 days after the date of the order. These return hearings will be set in front of the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge or his/her designee.
      • The Petitioner will receive a signed order electronically from the EWarrant System and shall immediately execute service of the petition and any issued order within its jurisdiction, or transmit by facsimile or other electronic method, the petition and order to any other jurisdiction to effectuate service upon the Respondent.
      • On the next business day, the Clerk of the Court shall docket the compliance and final hearings as indicated in the order.
      • If the Court’s E-Warrant System is not working after regular business hours, on a weekend or a holiday, Petitioner must call a felony division judge in that county and advise him/her that theE-Warrant System is down and they have an RPO that needs to be reviewed. Petitioner should then coordinate a time with the judge for Petitioner to handdeliver the documents to the judge to review. In these instances it is the responsibility of Petitioner to file the petition. supporting affidavit(s), and any signed order with the Clerk of the Court no later than the next business day, since it will not be transmitted through the £-Warrant System.
  9.  CLERK OF THE COURT RESPONSIBILITIES
    • Unless otherwise directed by the Florida Supreme Court, petitions for RPO’s should be filed in the mental health division and assigned an “MH” case number by the Clerk of the Court.
  10.  Upon receipt of a newly-filed RPO petition and supporting affidavit(s), the Clerk of the Court shall immediately conduct a search of its electronic records to determine if the respondent:
    • has had prior or is currently involved in felony, misdemeanor, delinquency, mental health, Marchman Act or Baker Act cases;
    • was or currently is a Respondent in an action for an RPO other than in the instant case;
    • was or currently is the subject of a no contact order issued in an action for stalking or domestic, repeat, sexual, or dating violence under sections 741.30, 784.046, or 784.0485, Florida Statutes.
  11.  After conducting the searches described above, the Clerk of the Court shall file in the court file a Report of Clerk’s Search of Court Records.for Respondent which is in substantial compliance with the form available on the court,s website, and notify the court using the appropriate RPO email address listed above. When an RPO is filed during regular business hours, the Court prefers to receive this Report of Clerk’s Search prior to holding the ex parte hearing, if possible.
  12. The Clerk of the Court shall be responsible for notifying the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at RPO@FreshFromFlorida.com within 3 business days after issuance of an RPO or temporary ex parte RPO under section 790.401(10)(c), Florida Statutes.
  13. As it pertains to petitions seeking an RPO against a juvenile respondent, the Clerk of the Court shall determine what portions of any pleadings and any documents filed in support of the petition shall be available for public viewing pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(d). In all cases involving a juvenile respondent, the Court will strive to balance a juvenile’s right to privacy against public safety, however, in order to effectuate service of process under section 790.401, Florida Statutes, ajuvenile respondent shall be identified by full name in the RPO petition.
  14. SERVICE OF PROCESS
    • The Sheriffs of Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties are authorized and empowered to authorize another law enforcement agency within the same county to effect service of any RPO docwnents as long as the law enforcement agency uses service and verification procedures consistent with those of the Sheriff and with section 790.401, Florida Statute.
  15. RECORD OF HEARINGS 
    • RPO Hearings are not required by law to be digitally recorded or reported at the State of Florida’s expense. However, the presiding judge may opt to digitally record RPO Hearings at his/her discretion.
    • If either party to an RPO wants to ensure that a record of a final hearing is made, parties may bring a court reporter to the final hearing at their own cost.
  16. EXPIRATION OF RPO’s
    • Section 790.401, Florida Statutes, requires that the court notify Petitioner of the impending end of an RPO at least 30 days before the date the order ends. In order to accomplish this, the following actions are required:
      • The Clerk of the Court is directed to implement a compliance date in its Case Management System for RPO expiration monitoring 45 days before expiration. The Clerk shall notify the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Court Judge of the case number, Petitioner name, Petitioner attorney (if any), Respondent name, and expiration date.
      • Each law enforcement agency that files an RPO must provide the Clerk of the Court and the presiding Probate, Guardianship and Mental Health Division judge an email address to specifically receive this notice.
      • The court will ensure that a procedure is established in each county within tbe circuit to send notice to Petitioner via email at the RPO email address provided by each law enforcement agency.
  17. This Administrative Order is effective upon signing [which took place on May 18, 2018].

 

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