Defendant is in jail for a gun charge. The gun is not his, nor did he know it was in the vehicle.

Defendant's girlfriend has an audio recording of the gun's owner admitting to owning the gun but refusing to say so to law enforcement because he bought the gun off the street.

Can that audio recording prove that Defendant is innocent of the gun charge?

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    Your friend's boyfriend should, if he doesn't already, have an attorney. If this information has not been shared with the attorney, then it should be immediately.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 12:09
  • 2
    Related question: If a person claims a backpack that was in a vehicle do they also claim what was in the backpack?
    – user35069
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 12:26
  • What is the "gun charge"? And what are the gun laws in that jurisdiction? Those details are important and I don't think there is enough information given to answer. For example, if you are required to transport firearms unloaded in the trunk, and this was accessible to the driver and had a round in the chamber, I don't think legal ownership matters when you are (knowingly or unknowingly) in physical possession. However, if the law says you must register a firearm you purchase and that is the charge, you would have a strong defense in that you didn't purchase the gun. Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 21:30
  • I guess that it might be either "unlawful possession of a firearm" or "possession of a firearm by a prohibited person" or something substantially similar, as the way went right to jail, indicating a possible breech of parole..
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 7:54

2 Answers 2


Defendant's girlfriend should produce the copies of the recording to police, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney.

Possession of the recording should induce the police and prosecution to at least re-evaluate the charges against Defendant, as Defendant would be able to subpoena the gun's owner to testify about the purchase and then use the recording to impeach him if he then denies owning the gun.

It is unclear, though, whether the audio actually has any value because we don't know what charges Defendant is facing. If he's charged with unlawfully owning a gun, the recording would likely be quite helpful; if he's charged with unlawfully transporting a weapon, the recording's value would probably depend on whether the law in question outlaws "knowingly" transporting a weapon or "negligently" transporting a weapon, or transporting a weapon regardless of whether he knew about it.

  • 1
    All-party state vs. one-party state and illegal recording, b.t.w.
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 15:42
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    @user6726 I don't see how that would have any bearing on evidentiary value.
    – bdb484
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 16:28
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    An illegal recording is not admissible under the laws of various states.
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 16:48
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    Do you have authority for that proposition? I've never been in a position to litigate it, but that rule doesn't sound like it could be correct. Because "“the Due Process Clause grants the aggrieved party the opportunity to present his case and have its merits fairly judged,” Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 433 (1982), I think courts would be loath to toss out evidence exculpatory evidence on the basis that a nonparty obtained it illegally.
    – bdb484
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 20:29
  • 3
    RCW 9.73.050: information obtained in violation of RCW 9.73.030 is inadmissible in any civil or criminal case, except with the permission of the person whose rights have been violated, or in a criminal action where the defendant is charged with a crime jeopardizing national security.
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 21:24

If the recording was made lawfully, it should be admissible, and might help such a defendant. But it might well not fully settle the issue. Even if the defendant is proved not to own the gun s/he might have placed it in the car, or known that it was there. Either of those might be enough to sustain the charges, depending on exactly what the charged are.

Such a defendant would be very wise to consult an experienced criminal lawyer. There might well be other important issues in the defense of any charges.

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