Virginia Senate Passes Bill Limiting Gun Access To Suspects Under Protective Orders
The Virginia state senate recently passed a bill barring suspects of domestic violence from possessing or transporting firearms. Under the bill, individuals under emergency protected orders would not have access to their firearms for up to 72 hours.
The bill was sponsored by 31st District Senator Barbara Favola (D) from Arlington. The senator believes the three-day period laid out in the bill could be crucial to quelling the possibility of firearm-related violence during domestic disputes.
In order for the bill to become state law, it must pass through the Virginia House of Delegates. A similar piece of legislation was previously struck down by a Republican-controlled house. State GOP lawmakers have already expressed concern the bill would infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.
Virginia protective orders
Protective orders are legal documents issued by judges to protect the lives of individuals who may be victims of domestic violence, threats of bodily injury or death, or possible sexual assault. In Virginia, there are three types of protective orders:
- Emergency protective orders (three days);
- Preliminary protective orders (15 days); and
- Protective orders (up to two years).
Emergency protective orders
Emergency protective orders may be issued by any Virginia magistrate, circuit court, district court, or juvenile court, 24 hours a day. Victims may file the orders themselves, with the aid of a family law attorney or the order may be filled out by a law enforcement officer.
Emergency protective orders are intended to provide “cooling down” periods between domestic partners. Due to the time sensitive nature of these orders, they may be issued orally or in writing by judges.
However, emergency protective orders are not without their caveats. Virginia law holds that persons under emergency protective orders must:
- Be informed in writing as soon as possible of the order;
- Be given the right to contest the order in court; and
- May not have the order used against them if they were not provided notice.
What happens after a protective order expires?
Emergency protective orders only last 72 hours, after which the potential for abuse may persist. Domestic violence victims may then file a preliminary protective order to extend legal protection for an additional 15 days while both parties wait for a court hearing to determine if a protective order of up to two years may be issued.
At the protective order hearing, both sides have the opportunity to present evidence stating their case. Should the court find the petitioner suffered family abuse, a protective order of up to two years may be issued.
Virginia family law attorneys
The Leesburg attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC understand the hardships family members facing domestic violence may face. Our law office regularly represent families seeking relief from abusive situations and advocate strongly for their legal rights.
Speaking to one of our attorneys about your case can help file the necessary paperwork and prepare a strong case to protect you and your family. If you or your children are in a situation where you need help, contact our office for a consultation.