2015 Georgia Code
§ 9-16-13 - In personam forfeiture

GA Code § 9-16-13 (2015) What's This?

(a) In actions in personam, the complaint shall be verified on oath or affirmation by a duly authorized agent of the state in a manner consistent with Article 5 of Chapter 10 of this title. The complaint shall:

(1) Describe with reasonable particularity the property which is sought to be forfeited;

(2) State the property's present custodian;

(3) State the name of the owner or interest holder, if known;

(4) Allege the essential elements of the criminal violation which is claimed to exist;

(5) State the place of seizure, if the property was seized; and

(6) Conclude with a prayer of due process to enforce the forfeiture.

(b) Service of the complaint and summons shall be as follows:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Code section, issuance of the summons, form of the summons, and service of the complaint and summons shall be as provided by subsections (a), (b), (c), and (d) of Code Section 9-11-4; and

(2) If the defendant is unknown or resides out of this state or departs this state or cannot after due diligence be found within this state or conceals himself or herself so as to avoid service, notice of the complaint for forfeiture shall be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in the legal organ of the county in which the complaint for forfeiture is pending. Such publication shall be deemed sufficient notice to any such defendant.

(c) A defendant shall file a verified answer within 30 days after the service of the summons and complaint. If service is made by publication and personal service has not been made, a defendant shall file such answer within 30 days of the date of final publication. In addition to complying with the general rules applicable to filing an answer in civil actions as set forth in Article 3 of Chapter 11 of this title, the answer shall contain all of the elements set forth in subsection (c) of Code Section 9-16-12. If the state attorney determines that an answer is deficient in some manner, he or she may file a motion for a more definite statement. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired. If the motion is granted and the order of the court is not obeyed within 15 days after notice of the order, or within such other time as the court may fix, the court may strike the pleading to which the motion was directed or make such order as it deems just. If a motion for a more definite statement is filed, the time requirements for a trial set forth in subsection (f) of this Code section shall not commence until a sufficient answer has been filed.

(d) In addition to any injured person's right of intervention pursuant to Code Section 9-16-16, any owner or interest holder or person in possession of the property who suffers a pecuniary loss or physical injury due to a violation of Code Section 16-5-46, Article 4 or 5 of Chapter 8 of Title 16, or Chapter 14 of Title 16 may be permitted to intervene in any civil action brought pursuant to this Code section or Code Section 9-16-12 as provided by Chapter 11 of this title.

(e) If at the expiration of the period set forth in subsection (c) of this Code section no answer has been filed, the state attorney may seek a default judgment as provided in Code Section 9-11-55 and, if granted, the court shall order the disposition of the seized property as provided for in Code Section 9-16-19.

(f) If an answer is filed, a bench trial shall be held within 60 days after the last claimant was served with the complaint; provided, however, that such trial may be continued by the court for good cause shown. Discovery as provided for in Article 5 of Chapter 11 of this title shall not be allowed; however, prior to trial any party may apply to the court to allow for such discovery, and if discovery is allowed, the court may provide for the scope and duration of discovery and may continue the trial to a date not more than 60 days after the end of the discovery period unless continued by the court for good cause shown.

(g) On a determination of liability of a person for conduct giving rise to forfeiture, the court shall enter a judgment of forfeiture of the property described in the complaint and shall also authorize the state attorney or his or her agent or any law enforcement officer or peace officer to seize all property ordered to be forfeited which was not previously seized or was not then under seizure. Following the entry of an order declaring the property forfeited, the court, on application of the state attorney, may enter any appropriate order to protect the interest of the state in the property ordered to be forfeited.

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