(a) As used in this section, the term “dangerous article” means:
(1) Any weapon such as a pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, blackjack, slingshot, sandbag, or metal knuckles; or
(2) Any instrument, attachment, or appliance for causing the firing of any firearms to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any firearms.
(b) A dangerous article unlawfully owned, possessed, or carried is hereby declared to be a nuisance.
(c) When a police officer, in the course of a lawful arrest or lawful search, or when a designated civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police Department in the course of a lawful search, discovers a dangerous article which the officer reasonably believes is a nuisance under subsection (b) of this section the officer shall take it into his or her possession and surrender it to the Property Clerk of the Metropolitan Police Department.
(d)(1) Within 30 days after the date of such surrender, any person may file in the office of the Property Clerk of the Metropolitan Police Department a written claim for possession of such dangerous article. Upon the expiration of such period, the Property Clerk shall notify each such claimant, by registered mail addressed to the address shown on the claim, of the time and place of a hearing to determine which claimant, if any, is entitled to possession of such dangerous article. Such hearing shall be held within 60 days after the date of such surrender.
(2) At the hearing the Property Clerk shall hear and receive evidence with respect to the claims filed under paragraph (1) of this subsection. Thereafter he or she shall determine which claimant, if any, is entitled to possession of such dangerous article and shall reduce his or her decision to writing. The Property Clerk shall send a true copy of such written decision to each claimant by registered mail addressed to the last known address of such claimant.
(3) Any claimant may, within 30 days after the day on which the copy of such decision was mailed to such claimant, file an appeal in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. If the claimant files an appeal, he or she shall at the same time give written notice thereof to the Property Clerk. If the decision of the Property Clerk is so appealed, the Property Clerk shall not dispose of the dangerous article while such appeal is pending and, if the final judgment is entered by such court, he or she shall dispose of such dangerous article in accordance with the judgment of such court. The Superior Court of the District of Columbia is authorized to determine which claimant, if any, is entitled to possession of the dangerous article and to enter a judgment ordering a disposition of such dangerous article consistent with subsection (f) of this section.
(4) If there is no such appeal, or if such appeal is dismissed or withdrawn, the Property Clerk shall dispose of such dangerous article in accordance with subsection (f) of this section.
(5) The Property Clerk shall make no disposition of a dangerous article under this section, whether in accordance with his or her own decision or in accordance with the judgment of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, until the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia certifies to the Property Clerk that such dangerous article will not be needed as evidence.
(e) A person claiming a dangerous article shall be entitled to its possession only if: (1) such person shows, on satisfactory evidence, that such person is the owner of the dangerous article or is the accredited representative of the owner, and that the ownership is lawful; (2) such person shows on satisfactory evidence that at the time the dangerous article was taken into possession by a police officer or a designated civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police Department, it was not unlawfully owned and was not unlawfully possessed or carried by the claimant or with his or her knowledge or consent; and (3) the receipt of possession by the claimant does not cause the article to be a nuisance. A representative is accredited if such person has a power of attorney from the owner.
(f) If a person claiming a dangerous article is entitled to its possession as determined under subsections (d) and (e) of this section, possession of such dangerous article shall be given to such person. If no person so claiming is entitled to its possession as determined under subsections (d) and (e) of this section, or if there be no claimant, such dangerous article shall be destroyed. In lieu of such destruction, any such serviceable dangerous article may, upon order of the Mayor of the District of Columbia, be transferred to and used by any federal or District Government law-enforcing agency, and the agency receiving same shall establish property responsibility and records of these dangerous articles.
(g) The Property Clerk shall not be liable in damages for any action performed in good faith under this section.
(July 8, 1932, ch. 465, § 18; Feb. 20, 1952, 66 Stat. 8, ch. 47, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); May 21, 1994, D.C. Law 10-119, § 15(m), 41 DCR 1639; June 12, 1999, D.C. Law 12-284, § 7, 46 DCR 1328.)
1981 Ed., § 22-3217.
1973 Ed., § 22-3217.
This section is referenced in § 5-133.16.
Ammunition feeding devices transfers, prohibition and exception under this section, see § 5-133.16.
Return of property by Property Clerk, see § 5-119.06.
For temporary amendment of section, see § 7 of the Metropolitan Police Department Civilianization and Street Solicitation for Prostitution Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-428, August 6, 1998, 45 DCR 5884).
For temporary amendment of section, see § 7 of the Metropolitan Police Department Civilianization Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-506, November 10, 1998, 45 DCR 45 8139), and § 7 of the Metropolitan Police Department Civilianization Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-13, February 8, 1999, 46 DCR 2333).
Section 7 of D.C. Law 12-282 inserted “or when a designated civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police Department in the course of a lawful search” in (c); and, in (e), inserted “or a designated civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police Department.”
Section 13(b) of D.C. Law 12-282 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.
Change in Government
This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.