Substantial Risk Order

Shape of the state of Virginia in orange

Virginia’s Substantial Risk Order (SRO) law was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam on April 10, 2020. An SRO temporarily prohibits a respondent who poses a substantial risk of personal injury to self or others in the near future from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.1 In Virginia, eligible petitioners include attorneys for the Commonwealth and law enforcement officers.2

There are two types of risk orders: an emergency risk order and a final risk order.  All petitioners may request a risk order by filing a sworn affidavit with the court. An emergency SRO is in effect for up to 14 days until the hearing for an SRO.3 An emergency SRO may be extended until the end of the next day the court is in session if the 14 days expire on a day when the court is not in session. An SRO lasts up to 180 days. 4

Virginia’s SRO law includes ex parte emergency SROs issued by judicial officers; a hearing where the respondent is provided notice and an opportunity to participate; the respondent’s right to counsel (at no expense to the government);  and the requirement of relevant evidence (e.g. the enumerated factors the judicial officer must consider) to issue an SRO.5

1 Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.13

2 Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.13

3 Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.14

4 Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.14

5 Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.13

Virginia's Substantial Risk Order

Effective: July 1, 2020

Order Type Max Duration Burden of Proof Factors to Consider Who can petition for ERPO

EX Parte Order

(Emergency order, if applicable)



Probable cause

  • recent threats or acts of violence towards self or others
  • law enforcement

Final Order

(emergency order, if applicable)


days (up to)

Clear and convincing

Factors to Consider
  • recent threats or acts of violence towards self or others
Who can petition for ERPO
  • law enforcement