What’s the Law: Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) & firearms

WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

Topic: Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) & firearms

Question: A good friend’s wife recently filed a family court restraining order against him. He had to turn in all of his firearms and ammunition to HPD. He has a very large collection and, easily, a ton of ammunition. This seems extremely unfair.

Answer: Hawaii law allows a current or former spouse, household member (roommate, too), boyfriend or girlfriend to file for a family court restraining order. Additionally, a family member (blood relation) and those with a child in common can file. The requesting party must allege under oath, violence, threat of violence, extreme psychological abuse, or malicious property damage. This is done ex parte, that is, without any notice to the other party. There is no filing fee, and a judge must review the TRO application. Once granted, the police will serve the TRO, and the defendant must immediately turn in all firearms and ammunition to the police. The defendant cannot contact the requesting party and, in most cases, is court-ordered to vacate and stay away from the shared residence.

TROs are based upon sworn allegations of being struck, punched, kicked, grabbed and choked, pushed down, sexually assaulted, etc. Threats to hurt, kill, commit arson, and also to kill or harm other family members are also common. However, non-threatening words or conduct alone have to be consistently alarming or disturbing and cause a reasonable person to suffer extreme emotional distress.

Requesting parties have been known to make false allegations. That would be perjury and a crime.

A court hearing would be set in two weeks at the Kapolei courthouse where the defendant can contest the TRO. At that time the judge could dismiss or continue the TRO or enter an Order for Protection that could last for decades.

If you are having a difficult time with a family or household members, your bad conduct may imperil your firearms. Any physical violence, threat of violence, malicious property damage, and extreme physiological abuse can trigger a TRO and the temporary loss of firearms and ammunition and may become a very long term confiscation under an Order of Protection.

For more details, see Chapter 586 and Section 134-7 HRS.

How to get firearms turned in under a TRO released from HPD? See “What’s the Law,” May 2011 Newsletter A future “What’s the Law” topic: District court TROs (Hmmm… Is your co-worker or neighbor afraid of you?)

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