Mid-Year New Laws Heads-Up
Jun 10, 2020
Most new laws in California go into effect on January 1st following the year they were enacted. However, AB12, an expansion on gun violence restraining orders, goes into effect on September 1, 2020. This mid-year activation may catch those tasked with enforcing the new law by surprise, and may catch those who are the targets of such a law even more by surprise.
What it Does
Penal Code 18175 is an expansion of the existing Gun Violence Restraining Order law (GVRO), and leaves most provisions intact. It allows an ex parte petition (without prior notice) to be heard to determine if an individual presents such an immediate threat to others that his firearms should be taken from him before another hearing can be held. Under current GVRO law, a hearing must be held within 21 days of the ex parte order. None of that is changed under the new expansion.
What has changed is who may request a GVRO. Formerly, only law enforcement and immediate family members and roommates could file an ex parte motion to remove an individual's guns. Under the new expansion, other people can petition the court for a GVRO.
- An employer of the subject of the petition.
- A coworker of the subject of the petition, if they have had substantial and regular interactions with the subject for at least one year and have obtained the approval of the employer.
- An employee or teacher of a secondary or postsecondary school that the subject has attended in the last six months, if the employee or teacher has obtained the approval of a school administrator or a school administration staff member with a supervisorial role.
- Police or law enforcement, family, and roommates are still included.
What It Does Not Do
Nothing in the law currently as written requires the petitioner to notify anyone else who might be impacted by a GVRO that they are seeking such an order. So an employer could swear out a GVRO against an employee, and police could arrive to serve the warrant at his home, without anyone at his residence being aware there were any issues. The same is true if a troubled teen's teachers decided to get a GVRO without notifying the parents, which is not inconceivable.
What Lawyers and Clients Should Do
If a GVRO lands on the doorstep, compliance is key, but so is a timely and quick response. A GVRO is not necessarily a criminal complaint, but it may become one if not handled properly. Obtaining legal advice is a must before you show up in court, and before things become more than you can handle.
Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.