2015 Mississippi Code
Title 63 - MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC REGULATIONS
Chapter 25 - MOTOR VEHICLE CHOP SHOP, STOLEN AND ALTERED PROPERTY ACT
§ 63-25-9 - Forfeiture of property

MS Code § 63-25-9 (2015) What's This?

(1) The following items shall be subject to forfeiture unless obtained by theft, fraud or conspiracy to defraud and the rightful owner of the items is known or can be identified and located: (a) any tool, (b) any implement, or (c) any instrumentality, including but not limited to any motor vehicle or motor vehicle part, whether owned or unowned by the person from whose possession or control it was seized, which is used or possessed either in violation of Section 63-25-5 or to promote and facilitate a violation of Section 63-25-5.

(2) Any motor vehicle, other conveyance or motor vehicle part used by any person as a common carrier is subject to forfeiture under this section where the owner or other person in charge of the motor vehicle, other conveyance or motor vehicle part is a consenting party to a violation of Section 63-25-5.

(3) Any motor vehicle, motor vehicle part, other conveyance, tool, implement or instrumentality is not subject to forfeiture under this section by reason of any act or omission which the owner proves to have been committed or omitted without the owner's knowledge or consent.

(4) (a) Seizing agencies shall utilize their best efforts to identify any seized motor vehicle or motor vehicle part to determine ownership or the identity of any other person having a right or interest in a seized motor vehicle or motor vehicle part. In its reasonable identification and owner location attempts, the seizing agency shall cause the stolen motor vehicle files of the Highway Safety Patrol to be searched for information on motor vehicles similar to the seized motor vehicle or consistent with the seized motor vehicle part.

(b) Where a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part has an apparent value in excess of One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00), the seizing agency shall:

(i) Consult with an expert specially trained and experienced in motor vehicle theft investigative procedures and motor vehicle identification techniques; and

(ii) Request searches of the on-line and off-line files of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Automobile Theft Bureau (NATB) when the Highway Safety Patrol's files have been searched with negative results.

(5) Forfeiture of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle part or other conveyance encumbered by a bona fide security interest is subject to the interest of the secured party where the secured party neither had knowledge of nor consented to the act or omission forming the ground for forfeiture; provided, however, that a forfeiture shall not be subject to the interest of any secured party if the property involved in the forfeiture is a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part seized pursuant to Section 63-25-7(1) and ownership cannot be determined.

(6) Property described in subsection (1) of this section which is seized and held for forfeiture shall not be subject to replevin and is subject only to the order and judgments of a court of competent jurisdiction hearing the forfeiture proceedings.

(7) (a) The seizing agency's attorney or the district attorney in the county in which the seizure occurs may bring an action for forfeiture in a court of competent jurisdiction. The forfeiture action shall be brought within sixty (60) days from the date of seizure. Except when the ownership of the property involved in the forfeiture is a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part seized pursuant to Section 63-25-7(1) and ownership cannot be determined, the prosecutor, may, in the sound exercise of discretion, decide not to bring a forfeiture action because of the rights of property owners, lienholders or secured creditors, or because of exculpatory, exonerating or mitigating facts and circumstances.

(b) The clerk of court shall give notice of the forfeiture proceeding by mailing a copy of the complaint in the forfeiture proceeding and instructions on how the action for forfeiture may be contested to each person whose right, title or interest is of record in the State Tax Commission or any department or agency of any other state or territory of the United States or of the federal government if such property is required to be registered in any such department or agency.

(c) Notice of the proceeding shall be given to any such other person as may appear, from the facts and circumstances, to have any right, title or interest in or to the property.

(d) The owner of the property, or any person having or claiming right, title or interest in the property, may, within fourteen (14) days after the mailing of such notice, file a verified answer to the complaint and may appear at the hearing on the action for forfeiture.

(e) The prosecutor shall show at a forfeiture hearing by a preponderance of the evidence that such property was used in the commission of a violation of Section 63-25-5, or was used or possessed to facilitate such violation or was seized pursuant to Section 63-25-7(1) and ownership cannot be determined.

(f) The owner of property may show by a preponderance of the evidence that he did not know, and did not have reason to know, that the property was to be used or possessed in the commission of any violation or that any of the exceptions to forfeiture are applicable.

(g) Unless the prosecutor shall make the required showing, the court shall order the property released to the owner. Where the prosecutor has made such a showing, the court may order:

(i) That the property be destroyed by the agency that seized it or by some other agency designated by the court;

(ii) That the property be delivered and retained for use by the agency which seized it or some other agency designated by the court; or

(iii) That the property may be sold at public auction as provided in subsection (11).

(8) A copy of a forfeiture order shall be filed with the sheriff of the county in which the forfeiture occurs and with each federal or state department or agency with which such property is required to be registered. Such order, when filed, constitutes authority for the issuance, to the agency to whom the property is delivered and retained for use, of a certificate of title, registration certificate or other special certificate as may be required by law considering the condition of the property.

(9) No motor vehicle which has been seized pursuant to Section 63-25-7 or forfeited or sold at public auction pursuant to this section shall be released by the seizing agency, used by an agency designated by the court, or sold at public auction unless any altered, counterfeited, defaced, destroyed, disguised, falsified, forged, obliterated or removed vehicle identification number is corrected by the issuance and affixing of either an assigned or replacement vehicle identification number plate as may be appropriate.

(10) Seizing agencies shall utilize their best efforts to arrange for the towing and storing of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts in the most economical manner possible. In no event shall the owner of a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part be required to pay more than the minimum reasonable costs of towing and storage.

(11) Property that has been ordered sold pursuant to subsection (7)(iii) shall be sold at public auction for cash by the chief law enforcement officer of the seizing agency or his designee to the highest and best bidder after advertising the sale for at least once each week for three (3) consecutive weeks, the last notice to appear not more than ten (10) days nor less than five (5) days prior to the sale, in a newspaper having a general circulation within the jurisdiction of the seizing agency. The legal notice shall contain a description of the property to be sold and a statement of the time and place of sale. The proceeds of the sale shall be disposed of as follows:

(a) To any bona fide lien holder, secured party, or other party holding an interest in the property in the nature of a security interest, to the extent of his interest; and

(b) The balance, if any, remaining after deduction of all storage, court costs and expenses of liquidation shall accrue to the seizing agency.

(12) A seized motor vehicle or motor vehicle part that is neither forfeited nor unidentifiable shall be held subject to the order of the court in which the criminal action is pending or, if a request for its release from such custody is made, until the district attorney has notified the defendant or the defendant's attorney of such request and both the prosecution and defense have been afforded a reasonable opportunity for an examination of the property to determine its true value and to produce or reproduce, by photographs or other identifying techniques, legally sufficient evidence for introduction at trial or other criminal proceedings. Upon expiration of a reasonable time for the completion of the examination, which in no event shall exceed fourteen (14) days from the date of service upon the defense of the notice of request for return of property as provided herein, the property shall be released to the person making such request after satisfactory proof such person is entitled to the possession thereof. Notwithstanding the foregoing, upon application by either party with notice to the other, the court may order retention of the property if it determines that retention is necessary in the furtherance of justice.

(13) When a seized motor vehicle is forfeited, restored to its owner or otherwise disposed of, the seizing agency shall retain a report of the transaction for a period of at least one (1) year from the date of the transaction.

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