2005 Florida Code - REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY LOST OR ABANDONED PROPERTYChapter 705

CHAPTER 705

LOST OR ABANDONED PROPERTY

705.101  Definitions.

705.1015  County or municipal code inspectors or code enforcement officers; duties.

705.102  Reporting lost or abandoned property.

705.103  Procedure for abandoned or lost property.

705.104  Title to lost or abandoned property.

705.105  Procedure regarding unclaimed evidence.

705.106  Recovery from person wrongfully in possession.

705.17  Exceptions.

705.18  Disposal of personal property lost or abandoned on university or community college campuses or certain public-use airports; disposition of proceeds from sale thereof.

705.19  Abandonment of animals by owner; procedure for handling.

705.101  Definitions.--As used in this chapter:

(1)  "Local government" means the board of county commissioners of a county or the commission or council of any municipality in the county.

(2)  "Lost property" means all tangible personal property which does not have an identifiable owner and which has been mislaid on public property, upon a public conveyance, on premises used at the time for business purposes, or in parks, places of amusement, public recreation areas, or other places open to the public in a substantially operable, functioning condition or which has an apparent intrinsic value to the rightful owner.

(3)  "Abandoned property" means all tangible personal property that does not have an identifiable owner and that has been disposed on public property in a wrecked, inoperative, or partially dismantled condition or has no apparent intrinsic value to the rightful owner. Vessels determined to be derelict by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or a county or municipality in accordance with the provisions of s. 823.11 are included within this definition.

(4)  "Law enforcement officer" means any person who is elected, appointed, or employed full time by any sheriff, any municipality, or the state or any political subdivision thereof; who is vested with authority to bear arms and make arrests; and whose primary responsibility is the prevention and detection of crime or the enforcement of the penal, criminal, traffic, or highway laws of the state. This definition includes all certified supervisory and command personnel whose duties include, in whole or in part, the supervision, training, guidance, and management responsibilities of full-time law enforcement officers or auxiliary law enforcement officers but does not include support personnel employed by the employing agency.

(5)  "Public property" means lands and improvements owned by the Federal Government, the state, the county, or a municipality and includes sovereignty submerged lands located adjacent to the county or municipality, buildings, grounds, parks, playgrounds, streets, sidewalks, parkways, rights-of-way, and other similar property.

(6)  "Unclaimed evidence" means any tangible personal property, including cash, not included within the definition of "contraband article," as provided in s. 932.701(2), which was seized by a law enforcement agency, was intended for use in a criminal or quasi-criminal proceeding, and is retained by the law enforcement agency or the clerk of the county or circuit court for 60 days after the final disposition of the proceeding and to which no claim of ownership has been made.

History.--s. 1, ch. 87-82; s. 15, ch. 89-268; s. 470, ch. 94-356; s. 70, ch. 99-248; s. 28, ch. 2000-197; s. 35, ch. 2002-46; s. 5, ch. 2004-39; s. 30, ch. 2004-344.

705.1015  County or municipal code inspectors or code enforcement officers; duties.--Employees of a county or municipality whose duty it is to ensure code compliance or enforce codes and ordinances may be designated by the governing body of the county or the municipality to administer the provisions of this chapter which pertain to lost or abandoned property. Designation of such employees shall not provide the employees with the authority to bear arms or make arrests.

History.--s. 16, ch. 89-268.

705.102  Reporting lost or abandoned property.--

(1)  Whenever any person finds any lost or abandoned property, such person shall report the description and location of the property to a law enforcement officer.

(2)  The law enforcement officer taking the report shall ascertain whether the person reporting the property wishes to make a claim to it if the rightful owner cannot be identified or located. If the person does wish to make such claim, he or she shall deposit with the law enforcement agency a reasonable sum sufficient to cover the agency's cost for transportation, storage, and publication of notice. This sum shall be reimbursed to the finder by the rightful owner should he or she identify and reclaim the property.

(3)  It is unlawful for any person who finds any lost or abandoned property to appropriate the same to his or her own use or to refuse to deliver the same when required.

(4)  Any person who unlawfully appropriates such lost or abandoned property to his or her own use or refuses to deliver such property when required commits theft as defined in s. 812.014, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 2, ch. 87-82; s. 4, ch. 92-79; s. 790, ch. 97-102.

705.103  Procedure for abandoned or lost property.--

(1)  Whenever a law enforcement officer ascertains that an article of lost or abandoned property is present on public property and is of such nature that it can be easily removed, the officer shall take such article into custody and shall make a reasonable attempt to ascertain the rightful owner or lienholder pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(2)  Whenever a law enforcement officer ascertains that an article of lost or abandoned property is present on public property and is of such nature that it cannot be easily removed, the officer shall cause a notice to be placed upon such article in substantially the following form:


NOTICE TO THE OWNER AND ALL PERSONS INTERESTED IN THE ATTACHED PROPERTY. This property, to wit:  (setting forth brief description)  is unlawfully upon public property known as  (setting forth brief description of location)  and must be removed within 5 days; otherwise, it will be removed and disposed of pursuant to chapter 705, Florida Statutes. The owner will be liable for the costs of removal, storage, and publication of notice. Dated this:  (setting forth the date of posting of notice) , signed:  (setting forth name, title, address, and telephone number of law enforcement officer) .


Such notice shall be not less than 8 inches by 10 inches and shall be sufficiently weatherproof to withstand normal exposure to the elements. In addition to posting, the law enforcement officer shall make a reasonable effort to ascertain the name and address of the owner. If such is reasonably available to the officer, she or he shall mail a copy of such notice to the owner on or before the date of posting. If the property is a motor vehicle as defined in s. 320.01(1) or a vessel as defined in s. 327.02, the law enforcement agency shall contact the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in order to determine the name and address of the owner and any person who has filed a lien on the vehicle or vessel as provided in s. 319.27(2) or (3) or s. 328.15(1). On receipt of this information, the law enforcement agency shall mail a copy of the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner and to the lienholder, if any. If, at the end of 5 days after posting the notice and mailing such notice, if required, the owner or any person interested in the lost or abandoned article or articles described has not removed the article or articles from public property or shown reasonable cause for failure to do so, the following shall apply:

(a)  For abandoned property, the law enforcement agency may retain any or all of the property for its own use or for use by the state or unit of local government, trade such property to another unit of local government or state agency, donate the property to a charitable organization, sell the property, or notify the appropriate refuse removal service.

(b)  For lost property, the officer shall take custody and the agency shall retain custody of the property for 90 days. The agency shall publish notice of the intended disposition of the property, as provided in this section, during the first 45 days of this time period.

1.  If the agency elects to retain the property for use by the unit of government, donate the property to a charitable organization, surrender such property to the finder, sell the property, or trade the property to another unit of local government or state agency, notice of such election shall be given by an advertisement published once a week for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was found if the value of the property is more than $100. If the value of the property is $100 or less, notice shall be given by posting a description of the property at the law enforcement agency where the property was turned in. The notice must be posted for not less than 2 consecutive weeks in a public place designated by the law enforcement agency. The notice must describe the property in a manner reasonably adequate to permit the rightful owner of the property to claim it.

2.  If the agency elects to sell the property, it must do so at public sale by competitive bidding. Notice of the time and place of the sale shall be given by an advertisement of the sale published once a week for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the sale is to be held. The notice shall include a statement that the sale shall be subject to any and all liens. The sale must be held at the nearest suitable place to that where the lost or abandoned property is held or stored. The advertisement must include a description of the goods and the time and place of the sale. The sale may take place no earlier than 10 days after the final publication. If there is no newspaper of general circulation in the county where the sale is to be held, the advertisement shall be posted at the door of the courthouse and at three other public places in the county at least 10 days prior to sale. Notice of the agency's intended disposition shall describe the property in a manner reasonably adequate to permit the rightful owner of the property to identify it.

(3)  If the property is sold at public sale pursuant to subparagraph (2)(b)2., the agency shall deduct from the proceeds the costs of transportation, storage, and publication of notice, and any balance of proceeds shall be deposited into an interest-bearing account not later than 30 days after the date of the sale and held there for 1 year. The agency shall provide a bill of sale clearly stating that the sale is subject to any and all liens. The rightful owner of the property may claim the balance of the proceeds within 1 year from the date of the above stated deposit by making application to the agency. If no rightful owner comes forward with a claim to the property within the designated year, the balance of the proceeds shall be deposited into the State School Fund.

(4)  The owner of any abandoned or lost property who, after notice as provided in this section, does not remove such property within the specified period shall be liable to the law enforcement agency for all costs of removal, storage, and destruction of such property, less any salvage value obtained by disposal of the property. Upon final disposition of the property, the law enforcement officer shall notify the owner, if known, of the amount owed. In the case of an abandoned boat or motor vehicle, any person who neglects or refuses to pay such amount is not entitled to be issued a certificate of registration for such boat or motor vehicle, or any other boat or motor vehicle, until such costs have been paid. The law enforcement officer shall supply the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles with a list of persons whose boat registration privileges or whose motor vehicle privileges have been revoked under this subsection. Neither the department nor any other person acting as agent thereof shall issue a certificate of registration to a person whose boat or motor vehicle registration privileges have been revoked, as provided by this subsection, until such costs have been paid.

(5)  Whoever opposes, obstructs, or resists any law enforcement officer or any person authorized by the law enforcement officer in the discharge of her or his duties as provided in this section upon conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(6)  Any law enforcement officer or any person authorized by the law enforcement officer is immune from prosecution, civil or criminal, for reasonable, good faith trespass upon real property while in the discharge of duties imposed by this section.

(7)  The rightful owner shall be liable for the law enforcement agency's costs for transportation and storage of lost or abandoned property and the agency's cost for publication of notice of disposition of lost property. If the rightful owner does not pay such costs within 30 days of making claim to the property, title to the property shall vest in the law enforcement agency.

History.--s. 3, ch. 87-82; s. 1, ch. 90-307; s. 12, ch. 94-241; s. 471, ch. 94-356; s. 1, ch. 97-51; s. 791, ch. 97-102; s. 29, ch. 2000-197.

705.104  Title to lost or abandoned property.--

(1)  Title to lost or abandoned property is hereby vested in the finder upon the expiration of the 90-day custodial time period specified in s. 705.103(2)(b), provided the notice requirements of s. 705.103 have been met, unless the rightful owner or a lienholder claims the property within that time.

(2)  Employees of any state, county, or municipal agency shall be deemed agents of such governmental entity, and lost or abandoned property found by them during the course of their official duties shall be turned in to the proper person or department designated to receive such property by the governmental entity. Such property shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter, after which, if unclaimed by the rightful owner, the title to such property shall be vested in the state, county, or municipality and not in the employee.

(3)  Employees of public transportation systems shall be deemed agents of such transportation systems, and lost or abandoned property found on public conveyances, in depots, or in garages of a transportation system shall be turned in to the proper person or department designated to receive such property by the transportation systems. Such property shall be subject to the provisions of this section, after which, if unclaimed by the rightful owner, the title to such property shall be vested in the transportation system and not in the employee.

History.--s. 4, ch. 87-82; s. 2, ch. 90-307.

705.105  Procedure regarding unclaimed evidence.--

(1)  Title to unclaimed evidence or unclaimed tangible personal property lawfully seized pursuant to a lawful investigation in the custody of the court or clerk of the court from a criminal proceeding or seized as evidence by and in the custody of a law enforcement agency shall vest permanently in the law enforcement agency 60 days after the conclusion of the proceeding.

(a)  If the property is of appreciable value, the agency may elect to:

1.  Retain the property for the agency's own use;

2.  Transfer the property to another unit of state or local government;

3.  Donate the property to a charitable organization;

4.  Sell the property at public sale, pursuant to the provisions of s. 705.103.

(b)  If the property is not of appreciable value, the law enforcement agency may elect to destroy it.

(2)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to repeal or supersede the provisions of s. 790.08 relating to the disposition of weapons and firearms.

History.--s. 5, ch. 87-82; s. 5, ch. 90-113.

705.106  Recovery from person wrongfully in possession.--Whenever any property described in this chapter, chapter 706, or chapter 707 is ascertained to be wrongfully withheld and the person in possession refuses to give it up to the sheriff on demand, the county attorney of the county in which the property is situated, or the city attorney, if within a municipality, when required to do so by the sheriff, shall enter a suit for said property and prosecute it to a final recovery. All moneys derived from these sources shall be paid by the sheriff into the State Treasury for the benefit of the State School Fund.

History.--ss. 4, 5, ch. 344, 1850; RS 2015; GS 2537; RGS 3892; CGL 5799; s. 4, ch. 63-267.

Note.--Former s. 705.06.

705.17  Exceptions.--The provisions of ss. 705.101-705.106 of this chapter shall not be applied to any personal property lost or abandoned on the campus of any institution in the State University System or on premises owned or controlled by the operator of a public-use airport having regularly scheduled international passenger service.

History.--s. 1, ch. 71-75; s. 6, ch. 87-82; s. 22, ch. 91-110; s. 61, ch. 96-323.

705.18  Disposal of personal property lost or abandoned on university or community college campuses or certain public-use airports; disposition of proceeds from sale thereof.--

(1)  Whenever any lost or abandoned personal property shall be found on a campus of an institution in the State University System or a campus of a state-supported community college, or on premises owned or controlled by the operator of a public-use airport having regularly scheduled international passenger service, the president of the institution or the president's designee or the director of the airport or the director's designee shall take charge thereof and make a record of the date such property was found. If, within 30 days after such property is found, or a longer period of time as may be deemed appropriate by the president or the director under the circumstances, it is not claimed by the owner, the president or director shall order it sold at public outcry after giving notice of the time and place of sale in a publication of general circulation on the campus of such institution or within the county where the airport is located and written notice to the owner if known. The rightful owner of such property may reclaim same at any time prior to sale.

(2)  All moneys realized from such institution's sale shall be placed in an appropriate fund and used solely for student scholarship and loan purposes. All moneys realized from such sale by an airport, less its costs of storage, transportation, and publication of notice, shall, unless another use is required by federal law, be deposited into the state school fund.

History.--s. 1, ch. 71-75; s. 1, ch. 77-131; s. 62, ch. 96-323; s. 1762, ch. 97-102.

705.19  Abandonment of animals by owner; procedure for handling.--

(1)  Any animal placed in the custody of a licensed veterinarian or bona fide boarding kennel for treatment, boarding, or other care, which shall be abandoned by its owner or the owner's agent for a period of more than 10 days after written notice is given to the owner or the owner's agent at her or his last known address may be turned over to the custody of the nearest humane society or dog pound in the area for disposal as such custodian may deem proper.

(2)  The giving of notice to the owner, or the agent of the owner, of such animal by the licensed veterinarian or kennel operator as provided in subsection (1) shall relieve the veterinarian or kennel operator and any custodian to whom such animal may be given of any further liability for disposal. Such procedure by a licensed veterinarian shall not constitute grounds for disciplinary procedure under chapter 474.

(3)  For the purpose of this section, the term "abandonment" means to forsake entirely or to neglect or refuse to provide or perform the legal obligations for care and support of an animal by its owner or the owner's agent. Such abandonment shall constitute the relinquishment of all rights and claim by the owner to such animal.

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 79-228; ss. 1, 2, ch. 81-157; s. 3, ch. 81-318; s. 792, ch. 97-102.
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