The Property & Evidence Section is responsible for the storage and safekeeping of items seized as evidence during criminal investigations as well as found property held for safekeeping and weapons seized pursuant to Domestic Violence Orders. Staff in this section take custody of items once they are turned over by the collecting officer and hold them until they are needed during a criminal trial, or until a judicial official issues a disposition order for the items.
Property / Evidence Release
Items being held as evidence in a criminal investigation can only be released pursuant to an order issued by a judicial official. When a case has been processed through court and disposed of (conviction, dismissal, etc.) the prosecuting attorney (District Attorney) may request that the presiding judge authorize the disposition of items being held as evidence for that particular case. This disposition may order the evidence custodian to return items to the rightful owner, return the items to the Sheriff’s Office for official use, destroy the items, or retain the items in custody. Once a criminal matter has been disposed of in court, it takes some time for the disposition order to be issued and reach the evidence custodian. Without this order, however, the evidence custodian does not have the discretion or authority to release any items being held as evidence.
Property Release Requests
If you are the rightful owner of property being held by the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office that you believe is eligible to be released you may contact the Property & Evidence Custodian by calling 828-632-1111 (Ext 623) to schedule an appointment to retrieve the items. Please note that the officer assigned to the Property & Evidence section also fulfills other duties at the Sheriff’s Office therefore property release requests will be honored by appointment only. Calling ahead to schedule the release of your property allows the evidence custodian time to review and prepare the necessary paperwork to release the items and minimize the time that the property owner must wait at our office to retrieve their items.
Firearms Held As Evidence
Firearms that are being held can only be released to individuals who can legally possess them; regardless of who they were seized from. This decision will be based on the review of a criminal history record of the requesting individual which will be examined for state or federal disqualifying convictions. NCGS 15-11.1 requires that firearms seized as evidence be disposed of as follows:
(b1) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of this section or any other provision of law, if the property seized is a firearm and the district attorney determines the firearm is no longer necessary or useful as evidence in a criminal trial, the district attorney, after notice to all parties known or believed by the district attorney to have an ownership or a possessory interest in the firearm, including the defendant, shall apply to the court for an order of disposition of the firearm. The judge, after hearing, may order the disposition of the firearm in one of the following ways:
- (1) By ordering the firearm returned to its rightful owner, when the rightful owner is someone other than the defendant and upon findings by the court (i) that the person, firm, or corporation determined by the court to be the rightful owner is entitled to possession of the firearm and (ii) that the person, firm, or corporation determined by the court to be the rightful owner of the firearm was unlawfully deprived of the same or had no knowledge or reasonable belief of the defendant’s intention to use the firearm unlawfully.
- (2) By ordering the firearm returned to the defendant, but only if the defendant is not convicted of any criminal offense in connection with the possession or use of the firearm, the defendant is the rightful owner of the firearm, and the defendant is not otherwise ineligible to possess such firearm.
- (3) By ordering the firearm turned over to be destroyed by the sheriff of the county in which the firearm was seized or by his duly authorized agent if the firearm does not have a legible, unique identification number or is unsafe for use because of wear, damage, age, or modification. The sheriff shall maintain a record of the destruction of the firearm.
- (4) By ordering the firearm turned over to a law enforcement agency in the county of trial for (i) the official use of the agency or (ii) sale, trade, or exchange by the agency to a federally licensed firearm dealer in accordance with all applicable State and federal firearm laws. The court may order a disposition of the firearm pursuant to this subdivision only upon the written request of the head or chief of the law enforcement agency and only if the firearm has a legible, unique identification number. If the law enforcement agency sells the firearm, then the proceeds of the sale shall be remitted to the appropriate county finance officer as provided by G.S. 115C-452 to be used to maintain free public schools. The receiving law enforcement agency shall maintain a record and inventory of all firearms received pursuant to this subdivision.
Firearms Held Pursuant To Domestic Violence Orders
The Sheriff’s Office is charged with the duty of seizing and storing firearms owned or possessed by defendants subject to current and valid Domestic Violence Protection Order pursuant to NCGS 50B – 3.1(a):
Required Surrender of Firearms. – Upon issuance of an emergency or ex parte order pursuant to this Chapter, the court shall order the defendant to surrender to the sheriff all firearms, machine guns, ammunition, permits to purchase firearms, and permits to carry concealed firearms that are in the care, custody, possession, ownership, or control of the defendant if the court finds any of the following factors:
(1) The use or threatened use of a deadly weapon by the defendant or a pattern of prior conduct involving the use or threatened use of violence with a firearm against persons.
(2) Threats to seriously injure or kill the aggrieved party or minor child by the defendant.
(3) Threats to commit suicide by the defendant.
(4) Serious injuries inflicted upon the aggrieved party or minor child by the defendant.
Firearms seized pursuant to this law will be stored by the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office until the expiration of the Domestic Violence Protection Order.
Retrieval. – If the court does not enter a protective order when the ex parte or emergency order expires, the defendant may retrieve any weapons surrendered to the sheriff unless the court finds that the defendant is precluded from owning or possessing a firearm pursuant to State or federal law or final disposition of any pending criminal charges committed against the person that is the subject of the current protective order.
Motion for Return. – The defendant may request the return of any firearms, ammunition, or permits surrendered by filing a motion with the court at the expiration of the current order or final disposition of any pending criminal charges committed against the person that is the subject of the current protective order and not later than 90 days after the expiration of the current order or final disposition of any pending criminal charges committed against the person that is the subject of the current protective order. Upon receipt of the motion, the court shall schedule a hearing and provide written notice to the plaintiff who shall have the right to appear and be heard and to the sheriff who has control of the firearms, ammunition, or permits. The court shall determine whether the defendant is subject to any State or federal law or court order that precludes the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. The inquiry shall include:
(1) Whether the protective order has been renewed.
(2) Whether the defendant is subject to any other protective orders.
(3) Whether the defendant is disqualified from owning or possessing a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922 or any State law.
(4) Whether the defendant has any pending criminal charges, in either State or federal court, committed against the person that is the subject of the current protective order.
Motion for Return by Third-Party Owner. – A third-party owner of firearms, ammunition, or permits who is otherwise eligible to possess such items may file a motion requesting the return to said third-party of any such items in the possession of the sheriff seized as a result of the entry of a domestic violence protective order. The motion must be filed not later than 30 days after the seizure of the items by the sheriff. Upon receipt of the third-party’s motion, the court shall schedule a hearing and provide written notice to all parties and the sheriff. The court shall order return of the items to the third-party unless the court determines that the third-party is disqualified from owning or possessing said items pursuant to State or federal law. If the court denies the return of said items to the third-party, the items shall be disposed of by the sheriff as provided in subsection (h) of this section.
AOC Form CV-319 (Motion for Return of Weapons Surrendered Under Domestic Violence Protective Order and Notice of Hearing)
Disposal of Firearms. – If the defendant does not file a motion requesting the return of any firearms, ammunition, or permits surrendered within the time period prescribed by this section, if the court determines that the defendant is precluded from regaining possession of any firearms, ammunition, or permits surrendered, or if the defendant or third-party owner fails to remit all fees owed for the storage of the firearms or ammunition within 30 days of the entry of the order granting the return of the firearms, ammunition, or permits, the sheriff who has control of the firearms, ammunition, or permits shall give notice to the defendant, and the sheriff shall apply to the court for an order of disposition of the firearms, ammunition, or permits. The judge, after a hearing, may order the disposition of the firearms, ammunition, or permits in one or more of the ways authorized by law, including subdivision (4), (4b), (5), or (6) of G.S. 14-269.1.
Storage Fees For DVO Firearms
Firearms being held pursuant to Domestic Violence Protection Orders are subject to a monthly storage fee as allowed by NCGS 50B § 3.1 (d)(2).
Fees for firearms storage accrue as follows:
$1 per gun per day for the first four guns held
50¢ per gun per day for all other guns (over the initial four held)
The number of days charged are calculated from the date the guns are seized until the date of dismissal / expiration of the Domestic Violence Order as noted on the court document.
Officers occasionally find lost or abandoned property left in public places and take these items into temporary custody for safekeeping. Staff will make reasonable attempts to locate the rightful owner of the found property and notify them of their responsibility to claim the items.
Items being held as found property will be stored for 180 days as required by N.C.G.S. 15-12(a) after which a public notice pertaining to the items will be published in the Taylorsville Times newspaper advising the owner(s) to claim the property within 30 days or forfeit the items to sale at public auction.
Bicycles being held as found property will be held for the statutory requirement of 60 days before public notice is given and the items are sold at public auction.
If you are the rightful owner of found property (other than evidence seized during a criminal investigation) that is being held by the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office you are advised to call 828-632-1111 (EXT 623) to arrange for the retrieval of the items as soon as possible. The person wishing to claim found property MUST provide proof of ownership satisfactory to the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office prior to the items being returned. This can be in the form of a receipt for purchase, notarized Bill of Sale, or other official documentation which clearly established ownership rights for the individual.