This may sound crazy but it is inspired by What if a spacecraft lands on my property?

The answer there seems to be that you don't acquire another's property just by it appearing in your domain.

The conclusion I draw from this is that if someone shot you, they would legally be entitled to ask for return of the bullet.

If so, and return of the bullet were refused, could this be raised as a civil case and how would one assess the damages?

  • 2
    considering that the other one shot you and thus committed a felony... also.. in which country? In Somalia, there is nothing like that, but in Germany, the bullet will become property of the state due to being confiscated...
    – Trish
    Dec 18, 2020 at 17:48
  • @Trish - Thanks. I have added the tags for the countries. I hope that is not too wide. Dec 18, 2020 at 17:59
  • 1
    @Trish Not all cases where one person shoots another are crimes. It might have been self-defense, for example. Dec 18, 2020 at 18:05
  • @DavidSiegel the bullet still goes to police in Germany, for forensics.
    – Trish
    Dec 18, 2020 at 18:08
  • If the bullet ends up in some person's body, I believe they retain the right to all matters regarding retrieval of said bullet. Dec 18, 2020 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


It could probably be argued that a bullet intentionally shot from a gun is abandoned property, and thus the shooter has no claim to its return. In addition, such a bullet might be evidence of a crime, to be seized by law enforcement, although that would not affect its ultimate ownership, at least not in the US.

Intent matters in such cases. A person who shoots a gun probably does not reasonably expect to retain possession and control of the bullet, whatever may have been shot at. Well, someone shooting at a properly controlled target for practice on his or her own property probably retains ownership of the bullet.


As others have alluded to, there are a number of different scenarios that can be read in to the OP.  Here's one...

Re: the United Kingdom

If this is a criminal act, and if the bullet can be recovered and if the police are investigating - the bullet will be seized as evidence and retained as police property.

Once any investigations, trials and appeals have concluded the police will either apply to the court for an Order of destruction or (if it is unique, notable or has a significant importance) an Order for it to be permanently retained by the police/army etc to be used in training, for display in a museum etc.

Even if found not guilty, it may not be returned to the shooter unless he makes a successful application to the court contesting the Order.

(NB this reply does not describe the process for every scenario involving seized property, but it is the norm for weapons etc that have inflicted injury.)

  • 1
    And if the shooter is found innocent? (perhaps because of self-defence or because their arm was jogged or the gun was faulty). Dec 18, 2020 at 19:14
  • Good point - edit to follow
    – user35069
    Dec 18, 2020 at 19:21

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