Dangerous Person Firearms Seizure
"The police confiscated my guns from my home without a search warrant. They said I was a dangerous person. Can they do this?"
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is intimately aware of the dangerous person law, its application, and handles these cases. The simple answer is “Yes.”
There is an Indiana statute that allows a law enforcement officer to seize firearms and ammunition before a tragedy occurs. This is effectively a right civil in nature, which why the search and seizures issues do not arise.
This statute was passed several years ago as a “catch all” provision following a shootout between a mentally person (police, family and friends were unable lawfully remove his firearms) and the Indianapolis Police Department. This left one police officer and the mentally ill person dead, some wounded, and a neighborhood shot up.
Under the statute, if a “dangerous person” presents himself or herself to a law enforcement officer, the police officer may seek a warrant from a court to seize the “dangerous persons” firearms or conduct a warrantless seizure of the firearms. In the latter circumstance, the police officer must submit a statement to the proper court as to why the firearms were seized.
Ultimately, the person from whom the firearms were seized is entitled to a hearing at which time the State has the burden of proof to establish the individual is a “dangerous person.” Even if it does so, the “dangerous person” may file a Petition for Return of the Firearms every 180 days.
However, during subsequent hearing, the individual has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence he or she is not a “dangerous person”. During these periods of time, the firearms remain in the custody of the police, presumably stored in the property room.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. our approach to handling “dangerous person” matters is comprehensive, obtaining medical records, police reports, and expert evaluation if necessary. Ultimately, if the “dangerous person” does not prevail, after five years, the court may allow the law enforcement agency to permanently dispose of the firearms.
“Dangerous person” cases are difficult ones to prepare for and try. The reason is simple: the law enforcement officers, prosecutor (who represents the state), and court have a duty to protect the citizenry.
The proof of proof to meet the evidentiary burden in such a case is never clear-cut. Nevertheless, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys are up to the task. If this understanding and approach makes sense to, perhaps we might be your counsel to guide you through this difficult process.