IN THE MATTER OF D.L.B. (0119-XTR-2020-000001, ATLANTIC COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (RECORD IMPOUNDED)

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RECORD IMPOUNDED NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-1035-20 APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION July 14, 2021 IN THE MATTER OF D.L.B. APPELLATE DIVISION ________________________ Submitted May 5, 2021 – Decided July 14, 2021 Before Judges Ostrer, Vernoia and Enright. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Petition No. 0119- XTR-2020-000001. Damon G. Tyner, Atlantic County Prosecutor, attorney for appellant (John J. Santoliquido, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief). Law Offices of Jef Henninger, attorneys for respondent (Christopher B. Caserio, on the brief). The opinion of the court was delivered by OSTRER, P.J.A.D. The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018 (the Act), New Jersey's "red flag law," empowers a court to remove firearms from a person who "poses a significant danger of bodily injury to . . . self or others" by possessing them. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-24(b). In this case, the Law Division, after a plenary hearing, denied a law enforcement officer's petition for a final extreme risk protective order (FERPO) that would have compelled D.L.B. to surrender her firearms. The State contends on appeal that it showed by a preponderance of the evidence that D.L.B. posed the requisite danger to self or others. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-24(b). Because the trial court did not admit critical evidence, did not require or ensure the State presented information and evidence upon which it relied in support of its petition, and did not make essential findings of fact, we reverse and remand for further proceedings. I. We first summarize the law at the center of this appeal. New Jersey, like many states, adopted a "red flag law" to permit family members and others to seek emergent orders to remove firearms from a person who poses a danger to self or others because of a mental health crisis or instability. See Response of the Supreme Court Criminal Practice Committee to Proposed Rule 3:5B "Extreme Risk Protective Orders" 1 (May 28, 2019) (Committee Report) (noting that the law was "designed to 'provide a kind of early warning system to keep mentally imbalanced individuals from becoming the next mass shooter'" (quoting Hearing Before S. Law & Pub. Safety Comm., S. 2259 (April 16, 2018))). 1 However, the law is not limited to that. It permits the 1 See also Commentary for Extreme Risk Protection Order Model Legislation, U.S. Department of Justice (June 7, 2021) www.justice.gov/doj/ 2 A-1035-20 emergent removal of weapons from any person who poses a danger to self or others. That may include a person contemplating an act of domestic violence or an act of terrorism. 2 The Act supplements other statutory mechanisms for removing firearms from persons who legally possess them. See, e.g., N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(f) (providing for revocation of firearm purchaser identification card if person no longer qualifies). New Jersey's law creates a two-stage process for issuing temporary and final orders to remove a person's firearms and ammunition, firearms purchaser identification card, handgun purchase permit, and …

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