What SB184 means to you: Part II – Seizure and Return of Firearm

By Jim Irvine

SB184 is 75 pages. It will go into effect on September 09, 2008. This is part of a series of articles looking at specific sections of the bill and how it will affect you. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney and this does not constitute legal advice. Concealed carry license holders are required to read the Attorney General guide. I highly recommend “The Ohio Guide to Firearms Laws” by Ken Hanson, Esq. (NOW AVAILABLE: Update for SB184).

SB184 introduced a new section to the Ohio Revised Code.

Sec 2923.163 requires that when a firearm is seized or surrendered to law enforcement, it shall be identified and stored in a manor that it can be returned to the person in the same condition as when it was seized. It further specifies that the court “shall award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the person who sought the order to return the firearm” if law enforcement fails to return a firearm when ordered.

In practical terms, this means that you no longer have to spend $2,000 in legal fees in hopes of recovering your $500 gun. If law enforcement has seized your firearm, and you have demanded that they return the firearm and they refuse to do so, you may sue them to obtain recovery of the firearm. If the court orders the police to return the firearm, you will be awarded your attorney fees for obtaining the court order.

This provision was designed to address the fact that under current law, law enforcement has no incentive to look at firearm return critically. It is far simpler to say "no, get a court order." After all, it won't cost the sheriff anything, and most people do not have the means to get the order. Under the new law, the playing field is leveled and there is incentive to be proactive in returning firearms that the owner is entitled to.

Sec. 2923.163. If a law enforcement officer stops a person for any law enforcement purpose and the person voluntarily or pursuant to a request or demand of the officer surrenders a firearm to the officer, if a law enforcement officer stops a motor vehicle for any purpose and a person in the motor vehicle voluntarily or pursuant to a request or demand of the officer surrenders a firearm to the officer, or if a law enforcement officer otherwise seizes a firearm from a person, all of the following apply:

(A) If the law enforcement officer does not return the firearm to the person at the termination of the stop or otherwise promptly return the firearm to the person after the seizure of the firearm, the officer or other personnel at the officer's law enforcement agency shall maintain the integrity and identity of the firearm in such a manner so that if the firearm subsequently is to be returned to the person it can be identified and returned to the person in the same condition it was in when it was seized.

(B) If the law enforcement officer does not return the firearm to the person at the termination of the stop or otherwise promptly return the firearm to the person after the seizure of the firearm, if a court finds that a law enforcement officer failed to return the firearm to the person after the person has demanded the return of the firearm from the officer, and if the court orders a law enforcement officer to return the firearm to the person, in addition to any other relief ordered, the court also shall award reasonable costs and attorney's fees to the person who sought the order to return the firearm.

Anyone who has ever had to hire an attorney to recover their property will understand the importance of this new section. For those who don’t understand its importance, we hope you never will. In a perfect world, this section would never be needed. In a less than perfect world, you can feel better knowing its here is you need it.

Hanson's "The Ohio Guide to Firearms Laws” updated to reflect SB184 changes

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