What Happens to Guns Seized in PFA Cases?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders often include firearm restrictions. To help you understand what a PFA with firearm restrictions means for you, here's a look at what happens to guns seized in PFA cases.

Are Guns Always Seized Under PFA Orders?

Normally, yes. Judges will almost always exercise caution in PFA cases and order defendants to turn over their weapons pending a final PFA hearing.

You may also need to hand over ammunition and documents like gun permits – your attorney can explain what's required based on the facts of your case.

Sometimes, it may be possible for your attorney to negotiate a PFA which allows you to keep your firearms pending the final hearing date. However, this is unusual, so expect to hand over your guns if you're subject to a PFA order.

What Happens if I'm Ordered to Relinquish My Firearms?

If the court grants the PFA, you usually have 24 hours to hand over any requested firearms, ammunition, and gun licenses to either the sheriff's department, licensed gun dealer, or the local law enforcement agency. You may also hand over your firearms and gun permits to your attorney.

Your property will be stored in a safe and secure location until the PFA case concludes.

Can I Get My Guns Back During a PFA Case?

You typically won’t get your guns back until the PFA expires or it's dismissed in court.

At this point, you can complete a weapons return form and give it to the law enforcement agency or sheriff's office.

How Do I Get My Guns Back After a PFA Case?

Even after you complete the weapons return form, you won't get your weapons, ammunition, or permits back unless the following conditions are met:

  • The weapons and/or ammo are not evidence of a crime.
  • There's nothing in State or Federal law preventing you from legally owning a weapon.
  • You're cleared by either the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or the Pennsylvania State Police Instant Check System Unit to recover your weapons.

If your application is refused, it might be possible to appeal the decision – your attorney can give you more advice on this.

How Long Do I Have to Get My Guns Back?

If you don't file a weapons return form within one year of the date the PFA expires, then law enforcement may consider the weapons “abandoned.”

They should give you 20 days' notice of their intent to dispose of the weapons – if you fail to respond, you will lose your guns.

If you didn't receive the proper notice period, contact an attorney for advice.

Get Help With PFA Orders From a PA Criminal Defense Attorney

If you're facing a PFA order, you need a committed PA criminal defense attorney in your corner. Let our Criminal Law Team and the LLF Law Firm fight for you – call us at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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