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Risk Protection Order in Pinellas

Enacted on March 9, 2018, section 790.401, Florida Statutes was created. “The Risk Protection Order Act” explains the requirements for the petition and resulting orders. In addition to preventing mass shootings, the orders are intended to prevent suicides or other forms of violence.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has filed at least 59 of these risk protection order (RPO) cases from April through July of 2018. The respondent prevailed in at least one of these cases by convincing the court to deny the request for a RPO.

The “red flag” law has been criticized for unnecessarily hampering the due process rights of individuals who are restrained by them. In these risk protection order cases, the court is asked to determine whether:

  • by clear and convincing evidence;
  • the petitioner proved that the respondent poses a “significant danger”;
  • of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others;
  • by having in his or her custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or any ammunition.

In some judicial circuits in Florida have adopted administrative rules for determining where Risk Protection Order (hereinafter “RPO”) cases will be heard. In Pinellas County, the judge assigned as duty judge on the day the petition is filed is responsible for considering the petition and scheduling the 14-day hearing. That same judge is then responsible for conducting the hearing.

These procedures might violate due process by allowing the petition to “shop” for the best judge for each case. Although “judge shopping” is not supposed to occur, it can occur in an RPO case in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for Pinellas and Pasco County because the “duty judge schedule” is published months in advance.

The attorney with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office or the law enforcement officer filing the petition knows before the petition is filed which judge will be assigned to decide the case. By selecting the date to file the petition, law enforcement officers can effectively select the judge who will consider the petition and rule on the case at the return hearing.

If you were served with a temporary risk protection order (RPO) and notice of further hearing in Pinellas County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. Call (813) 250-0500.

Attorney for Risk Protection Orders in Clearwater, FL

It appears that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has created a Risk Protection Unit that is responsible for serving these temporary orders to seize (for the surrender) of firearms, ammunition, and the concealed weapon’s permit. Local agencies in Pinellas County, are looking for cases in which these petitions can be filed.

We are prepared to defend clients served with a Risk Protection Order involving any of the law enforcement agencies in Pinellas County including:

  • the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office;
  • the Clearwater Police Department;
  • the St. Petersburg Police Department;
  • the Pinellas Park Police Department;
  • the Largo Police Department;
  • the Gulfport Police Department;
  • the Belleair Police Department;
  • the Indian Shores Police Department;
  • the Kenneth City Police Department; or
  • the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

An attorney with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office can represent the law enforcement officer or agency during the hearing. You also need an attorney with experience in these type of hearings.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients served with a Risk Protection Order in Pasco County, which is in the same judicial circuit. Those RPO hearing are conducted at the New Port Richey or Dade City Courthouse. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa and we have a second office in New Port Richey, right across from the courthouse.

Call 813-250-0500.

Service of the Order and Seizure (Forced Surrender) of the Firearms

When the temporary risk protection order (RPO) is served in Pinellas County, you might also be served with a letter from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Property Evidence Division. The letter identifies the firearms or ammunition owned by you that is being held pursuant to the terms of a temporary or final Risk Protection Order.

In Pinellas County, those firearms and ammunition will be stored at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Property and Evidence Division located at 4707 145th Avenue North, Clearwater, FL, 33762.

All firearms and ammunition will only be returned with an appointment and following a background check. In order to retrieve your firearms and ammunition after the expiration of the Risk Protection Order, please contact the Property and Evidence Division which is opened on Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 790.401, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is required to notify any family or household members prior to the return of any surrendered firearms or ammunition. The firearms will not be returned to you unless you retrieve the items within one year of the dismissal or expiration of the order. Firearms not retrieved within such time shall be disposed of, without further notice, pursuant to Florida Statutes.

The letter states that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will not be responsible for continued storage of any firearm or ammunition held for safekeeping longer than twenty-four (24) months after the date of this notice unless you provide a certified copy of a court order directing some other disposition of the firearms or ammunition or continued storage by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Read more about Risk Protection Orders in Hillsborough County and Risk Protection Orders in Manatee County, FL.

Additional Resources

Restraining Order Pinellas County, FL – Visit the clerk of court in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for Pinellas County, FL, to look up information on protective or restraining orders in Pinellas County, the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Find helpful information including family law and restraining order sample forms. The website provides information on how to file for an injunction, including an injunction for protection from domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, stalking or cyberstalking, and exploitation of the elderly or a vulnerable adult. Find out more about a Violation of Injunction, or action for contempt, modification, extension or dismissal of an injunction. You can also watch a video on how to file for an injunction for protection. Petitions for an injunction can be filed at any of the following locations:

315 Court Street, Room 170
Clearwater, FL 33756

14250 49th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33762

545 First Avenue North, Room 101
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Extreme Risk Protection Order – In other states, the RPO is known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). Many people call these statutes the “red flag” law. Several states have created a process for obtaining an extreme risk protection order, although the procedures vary from state to state. In the U.S. Senate, a bill was introduced for the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2018.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, August 1, 2018.