2010 Georgia Code
O.C.G.A. 17-5-54 (2010)
TITLE 17 - CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 5 - SEARCHES AND SEIZURES
ARTICLE 3 - DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY SEIZED
§ 17-5-54 - Disposition of personal property in custody of law enforcement agency
17-5-54. Disposition of personal property in custody of law enforcement agency
(a)(1) Except as provided in Code Sections 17-5-55 and 17-5-56 and subsections (d), (e), and (f) of this Code section, when a law enforcement agency assumes custody of any personal property which is the subject of a crime or has been abandoned or is otherwise seized, a disposition of such property shall be made in accordance with the provisions of this Code section. When a final verdict and judgment is entered finding a defendant guilty of the commission of a crime, any personal property used as evidence in the trial shall be returned to the rightful owner of the property. All personal property in the custody of a law enforcement agency, including personal property used as evidence in a criminal trial, which is unclaimed after a period of 90 days following its seizure, or following the final verdict and judgment in the case of property used as evidence, and which is no longer needed in a criminal investigation or for evidentiary purposes in accordance with Code Section 17-5-55 or 17-5-56 shall be subject to disposition by the law enforcement agency. The sheriff, chief of police, or other executive officer of a law enforcement agency shall make application to the superior court for an order to retain, sell, or discard such property. In the application the officer shall state each item of personal property to be retained, sold, or discarded. Upon the superior court's granting an order for the law enforcement agency to retain such property, the law enforcement agency shall retain such property for official use. Upon the superior court's granting an order which authorizes that the property be discarded, the law enforcement agency shall dispose of the property as other salvage or nonserviceable equipment. Upon the superior court's granting an order for the sale of personal property, the officer shall provide for a notice to be placed once a week for four weeks in the legal organ of the county specifically describing each item and advising possible owners of items of the method of contacting the law enforcement agency; provided, however, that miscellaneous items having an estimated fair market value of $75.00 or less may be advertised or sold, or both, in lots. Such notice shall also stipulate a date, time, and place said items will be placed for public sale if not claimed. Such notice shall also stipulate whether said items or groups of items are to be sold in blocks, by lot numbers, by entire list of items, or separately.
(2) Items not claimed by the owners shall be sold at a sale which shall be conducted not less than seven nor more than 15 days after the final advertised notice has been run. The sale shall be to the highest bidder.
(3) If property has not been bid on in two successive sales, the law enforcement agency may retain the property for official use or the property will be considered as salvage and disposed of as other county or municipal salvage or nonserviceable equipment.
(4) With respect to unclaimed perishable personal property or animals or other wildlife, the officer may make application to the superior court for an order authorizing the disposition of such property prior to the expiration of 90 days.
(5) With respect to a seized motor vehicle which is not the subject of forfeiture proceedings, the law enforcement agency shall be required to contact the Georgia Crime Information Center to determine if such motor vehicle has been stolen and to follow generally the procedures of Code Section 40-11-2 to ascertain the registered owner of such vehicle.
(b) Records will be maintained showing the manner in which each item came into possession of the law enforcement agency, a description of the property, all efforts to locate the owner, any case or docket number, the date of publication of any newspaper notices, and the date on which the property was retained by the law enforcement agency, sold, or discarded.
(c) The proceeds from the sale of personal property by the sheriff or other county law enforcement agency pursuant to this Code section shall be paid into the general fund of the county treasury. The proceeds from the sale of personal property by a municipal law enforcement agency pursuant to this Code section shall be paid into the general fund of the municipal treasury.
(d) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to personal property which is the subject of forfeiture proceedings as otherwise provided by law.
(e) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to any property which is the subject of a disposition pursuant to Code Sections 17-5-50 through 17-5-53.
(f) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to any abandoned motor vehicle for which the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 40 are applicable.
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