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Old June 2, 2020, 10:47 PM   #1
Ralph III
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Join Date: October 26, 2019
Posts: 4
Pistol confiscated by police and they won't return it.

Hello All,
My co-workers $700.00 pistol (stainless Ruger .22) was confiscated 2 years ago by the local police department (rural) and they refuse to return it. Any insight would be appreciated.

This is what occurred:

His wife's adult son, who has a prior felony conviction, took the pistol without permission and was walking down the road in their neighborhood. I think he was headed toward a large wooded area in order to shoot it. It's a rural area and open carry/shooting is legal, btw. Anyhow, one of the neighbors must have gotten worried and called the police. The police ended up confiscating the pistol from the step-son because he has a prior felony. My co-worker, who is the rightful owner, has been trying to get his pistol back for two years now but they will not release it. No charges have ever been filed and the police just say it is under investigation.

What steps can he take to get his pistol back? As noted, he is the legal owner and it was taken without his permission, most assuredly.

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Old June 2, 2020, 11:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: September 23, 2013
Location: Alabama
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they need a court order for the return. either they file charges and keep it as evidence or they do not and return it.
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Old June 3, 2020, 12:44 AM   #3
Aguila Blanca
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 14,200
This is a legal question. The answer is dependent on the laws of the state in which you are located and the particulars of the case. The Internet is not an appropriate place to seek legal advice (except in the most general sense).

For example: the father is the lawful owner and the son took the gun without permission. Are we to assume that the police had the gun before the father knew it had been stolen? If not -- did the father file a report that his firearm had been stolen?

The father knew his son had a felony conviction, yet the gun was accessible to the felon? To be honest, your friend may consider himself lucky that he wasn't arrested for allowing a felon to access a firearm.

I think it's best to close this before it gets too far along. If any of the attorneys among the moderators think it should be reopened, we'll reopen it. I'm sorry, Ralph, but I don't see any good likely to result from trying to hash this out on an open forum. Your friend needs to consult an attorney.
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Old June 3, 2020, 03:54 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 9,263
Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca
...I think it's best to close this before it gets too far along. If any of the attorneys among the moderators think it should be reopened, we'll reopen it....
I agree. The "consult an attorney" advice is the best, and probably the only useful, answer.

I will point out that in addition to any possible state law problems, the stepson could face serious federal charges, and the OP's friend (and/or the friend's wife) could also face serious federal charges depending on what actions they took, or failed to take, to prevent the stepson from having access to the gun.

See, United States v. Huet, 665 F.3d 588 (3rd Cir., 2012), in which the gun a prohibited person was charged with illegally possessing was not secured against the prohibited person's access, supporting both the prohibited person's conviction for unlawful possession of a gun and the indictment of his cohabitant. From the opinion (at pg. 593, emphasis added):
...on June 6, 2008, a valid search warrant (the “search warrant”) was executed on the couple‟s Clarion County home. Agents seized an SKS, Interordnance M59/66 rifle (“SKS rifle”) from an upstairs bedroom.

Although Huet is legally permitted to possess a firearm, Hall was convicted in 1999 of possessing an unregistered firearm, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d), and is therefore prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. After being informed of the raid, Huet allegedly told investigators that the guns in the house belonged to her and that it was not illegal for her to purchase weapons. Despite Huet‟s assertions that she alone possessed the SKS rifle, the Government sought and obtained an indictment charging Hall with illegal possession of the weapon, and Huet with aiding and abetting Hall‟s possession....
So the gun Hall, a convicted felon, was indicted for unlawfully possessing, belonged to his cohabitant, Huet. It appears to have been undisputed that Huet could lawfully possess firearms. Nonetheless, she was indicted for aiding and abetting Hall's unlawful possession of gun because Huet's gun wasn't secured against access by Hall.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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