Phoenix, AZ asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Arizona

Q: What do I do if am contacted by a detective about them confiscating a stolen firearm I purchased?

I recently had a firearm confiscated from me because it came back stolen.* I've never been convicted of a crime. *I even ran the serial numbers in numerous data bases to make sure it wasnt stolen well come to fund out it was. Now the detective wants to talk to me. I fear that what I say will be used to build a case against me for somthing I had no knowledge of. My dad is a retired police officer and I start school aug 26 for my associates degree in paralegal studies. I have to protect my integrity and my dad's reputation.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: I try very hard to never answer a question with merely "you need a lawyer." If someone is asking a question on an Ask-a-Lawyer website, I figure they likely suspect it would be nice to have a lawyer.

So, the BEST way to protect your integrity and your father's reputation would be to hire an attorney "a la carte" to be present when the detective questions you. You do not need to hire an attorney outright because you have not been charged with anything. An attorney sitting with you during questioning will do three things for you. First, the attorney will be able to stop you from saying something which could be incriminating. Second, law enforcement will be less likely to attempt to manipulate you due to having an attorney present. Third, knowing number one and number two will greatly reduce the stress and anxiety you will experience over agreeing to speak with the detective alone.

The detective may merely be gathering information in the prosecution of the person who actually stole the weapon but you certainly are justified in regarding the request with suspicion. I would recommend you locate an attorney who will agree to represent you solely for the interview and I would advise the detective that a) you will be seeking counsel and b) you will only agree to the interview with an understanding up front that it will be limited to no more than an hour to control the cost of obtaining counsel. If they need more than an hour they can subpoena you to testify, you are not submitting to an interrogation. If they want to interrogate you, let them press charges.

If you decide to agree to sit down without counsel, I would still set a time limit up front and let them know you are agreeing to cooperate but not agreeing to an unlimited time for the interview. Although they may attempt to make you feel like you do not have the freedom to terminate the interview and leave at any time, unless they place you under arrest you have that right. Set a limit and if they are still asking questions when their time is up, politely inform them that the interview is over and stand your ground. I would also request that the interview take place in your home or a neutral location where you and the detective can speak privately. I would not give them home field advantage by agreeing to an interview at the police station. Stick to the facts. Provide names, places, dates, copies of documentation regarding the sale (if any).

If you are under 18 years of age, you are entitled to have a parent present during questioning. If the transaction in which you came into possession of the firearm occurred prior to your 18th birthday, there may be additional problems with state or federal firearms law not addressed here and regarding which an attorney could provide counsel.

I hope that helps.

Gary Kollin
Gary Kollin
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

A: Thanks for sharing.

Now share that with a retained lawyer before you speak with the detective

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