In firm news, the Norton Pelt team is very excited to announce that we won the Best Law Firm Category in the 2023 Best of the Burg contest!   We'd like to extend a big thank you to our community for all of your support - this couldn't have been achieved without you. We look forward to continuing to provide excellent legal services to Fredericksburg and the Commonwealth.

Virginia Red Flag Law

One notable law that recently went into effect in the Commonwealth of Virginia is the Extreme Risk Protective Order, which is the state’s version of the commonly-referred-to “Red Flag Law,” which 19 other states currently have some version of. This law is aimed at certain individuals who pose a “substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future by such person’s possession or acquisition of a firearm.”

There has been a significant amount of discussion and controversy surrounding this law and other gun-control measures passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Northam. This blog will lay out the facts associated with Virginia’s red flag law. 

Emergency Substantial Risk Order

This new law gives law enforcement authorities, government attorneys, and other officials the power to petition for an emergency substantial risk order. The petitioner (government official) must show that there is probable cause for the emergency substantial risk order to be issued. If the petitioner is successful and the court finds probable cause that the subject poses a substantial risk, the subject is prohibited from “purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm” while the order is active. 

Substantial Risk Hearing

An emergency order against someone deemed to be a substantial risk officially expires after 14 days of its issuance. In that 14-day window, a hearing before the court must be held to determine if a substantial risk order should be placed upon the subject. Those who are familiar with restraining orders (associated with domestic violence) might recognize this procedure as somewhat similar. 

The subject of the emergency order must be given advance notice of the hearing. If you are the subject of the hearing, you have a right to be represented by an attorney to protect your rights. At the hearing, the court may only place a substantial risk order if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that you pose a substantial risk to yourself or others by possession or acquisition of a firearm. Non-emergency substantial risk orders may last for a maximum of 180 days, though representatives from the state may request an extension (which will require another hearing). 


Though passed with seemingly good intentions, the team at Norton Pelt recognizes the potential for abuse of the state’s red flag law. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of Virginians; we understand the law and will work tirelessly to defend you against any charges. 

Give us a call today at 540-440-7007 to discuss your options. We are currently offering free consultations to first responders, nurses, and other medical staff who are on the front lines during these strange times. We look forward to speaking with you!

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