July 17, 2006
TO: All Judges and Commissioners Assigned to Criminal
FROM: Judge David S. Wesley, Supervising Judge, Criminal Division
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR RELEASE/RETURN OF FIREARMS; PENAL CODE SECTION 12021.3
On January 1, 2005, the Law Enforcement Gun Release (LEGR) process became effective as set forth in Penal Code section 12021.3.
This process requires any person who claims title to any firearm that is in the custody or control of a court or law enforcement agency and who wishes to have the firearm returned to submit a LEGR application form (see attached form) for a determination by the Department of Justice (DOJ), as to whether he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.
LEGR Application Process:
1. The individual that wants the firearm returned must submit the application with the appropriate fee to the DOJ.
2. The DOJ will do a firearm eligibility check.
3. A notice of the results of the check will be sent to the applicant.
4. The DOJ notice must be presented to the Court or law enforcement agency within 30 days of the date of the notice.
5. If the DOJ notice of results is not presented to the Court or agency within 30 days of the date of the notice, the applicant has to start all over.
The section allows the owner of a firearm that is seized by police during an arrest, where no charges are filed, to get the firearm back without a court order. If it is a weapon seized pursuant to a warrant and there is no filing, then a return of property order for a firearm should not be signed unless this section is complied with.
I have found that most lawyers and agencies are unfamiliar with this new requirement and are still just asking judges to sign a return-of-property. Please read this section before considering such a request.
David S. Wesley
Supervising Judge, Criminal Division
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