Many people in Arizona highly value their Second Amendment right to bear arms. However, this right is not always absolute. There are reasons why police might seize a person’s firearms, at least temporarily. Such is the case when police are sent to investigate a report of domestic violence.
Under Arizona law, police are permitted to question those at the scene of the alleged domestic violence to determine if a firearm is within the premises. If an officer learns a firearm is present or sees a firearm present, police are permitted to seize the firearm temporarily. However, this can only be done if the firearm is in plain sight or if the parties consented to the search and if the police had a reason to believe that someone in the household could be seriously injured or killed with the firearm. Also, if the firearm is the property of the alleged victim, it cannot be subject to seizure unless the police have probable cause to think that both parties independently engaged in acts of domestic violence.
When a firearm is seized in situations like this, it will be held by police for a minimum of 72 hours. If reasonable cause exists to think that the alleged victim, another household member or the person who reported the alleged act of domestic violence will be put in danger if the firearm is returned to the owner, the firearm will be retained by the court for up to six months.
Upon receiving notification that their firearm is being held, the person accused of committing domestic violence can move the court for a hearing to either get back the firearm, dispute the grounds on which the firearm was seized, or ask for an earlier return date. At such a hearing, if the court does not find that returning the firearm would put the alleged victim, another household member or the person who reported the alleged act of domestic violence in danger, then the firearm shall be returned to the accused.
So, while a firearm can be seized when police are called to the alleged scene of domestic violence, they must return the firearm to the accused under certain circumstances. Those who need more information or who feel their rights have been violated will want to discuss their situation with a criminal defense attorney, as this post does not constitute legal advice.