In an effort to ensure that I was providing accurate information on this forum, I spoke to a few prosecutors and police officers today specifically concerning the return of a confiscated radar detector to the owner. Here's the gist: There appears to be no uniform answer. The answer differs between prosecutors and police officers. Some of the prosecutors were unsure of the answer while others maintained that the detector would not be returned. The police officers were from different departments-Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police. The answer I got from some of these officers was that they believed the detector could be retrieved/returned to the owner after the conclusion of the case. I was informed that the procedure to recover the detector was complicated and would probably require the services of an attorney. Considering the hourly cost of hiring an attorney, the cost of the attorney to retrieve the detector could possibly surpass the cost of the detector. If that is the case, I guess the individual would have to decide if the detector was valuable or sentimental enough to try to get it back by paying an attorney more than the detector is worth.
By the way, it appears that some officers will not bother someone with a detector because the process of doing the stop and the paperwork required to process the case may be more work than what the case is worth. However, bear this in mind, one of the officers I spoke with today informed me that he just recently stopped an individual and confiscated the individuals radar detector. I did not ask and he did not tell me the circumstances.
Bottom line, the possession of radar detectors are illegal in DC, all the officers agree on that point. If you wish to continue to try your luck by displaying your detector in plain sight, just hope you don't run into the officers that do stop individuals and confiscate the radar detectors. Even if you are able to get the detector back, the process of having to go to Court, risk a criminal conviction, and expend money on fines and possibly an attorney just don't seem worth it.