2015 New Hampshire Revised Statutes
Title XXX - OCCUPATIONS AND PROFESSIONS
Chapter 318-B - CONTROLLED DRUG ACT
Section 318-B:17-b - Forfeiture of Items Used in Connection With Drug Offense.

NH Rev Stat § 318-B:17-b (2015) What's This?

    318-B:17-b Forfeiture of Items Used in Connection With Drug Offense. –
    I. Interests in the following property, upon petition of the attorney general, shall be subject to forfeiture to the state and said property interest shall be vested in the state:
       (a) All materials, products and equipment of any kind, including, but not limited to, firearms, scales, packaging equipment, surveillance equipment and grow lights, which are used or intended for use in procurement, manufacture, compounding, processing, concealing, trafficking, delivery or distribution of a controlled drug in felonious violation of this chapter.
       (b) Property interest in any conveyance, including but not limited to aircraft, vehicles, or vessels, which is used or intended for use in the procurement, manufacture, compounding, processing, concealing, trafficking, delivery or distribution of a controlled drug in felonious violation of this chapter.
       (c) Any moneys, coin, currency, negotiable instruments, securities or other investments knowingly used or intended for use in the procurement, manufacture, compounding, processing, concealing, trafficking, delivery or distribution of a controlled drug in felonious violation of this chapter and all proceeds, including moneys, coin, currency, negotiable instruments, securities or other investments, and any real or personal property, traceable thereto. All moneys, coin, currency, negotiable instruments, securities and other investments found in proximity to controlled substances are presumed to be forfeitable under this paragraph. The claimant of the property shall bear the burden of rebutting this presumption.
       (d) Any books, records, ledgers and research material, including formulae, microfilm, tapes and any other data which are used or intended for use in felonious violation of this chapter.
       (e) Any real property, including any right, title, leasehold interest, and other interest in the whole of any lot or tract of land and any appurtenances or improvements, which real property is knowingly used or intended for use, in any manner or part, in the procurement, manufacture, compounding, processing, concealing, trafficking, delivery or distribution of a controlled drug in felonious violation of this chapter.
    I-a. The state shall have a lien on any property subject to forfeiture under this section upon seizure thereof. Upon forfeiture, the state's title to the property relates back to the date of seizure.
    I-b. Property may be seized for forfeiture by any law enforcement agency designated by the department of justice, as follows:
       (a) Upon process issued by any justice, associate justice or special justice of the municipal, district or superior court. The court may issue a seizure warrant on an affidavit under oath demonstrating that probable cause exists for its forfeiture or that the property has been the subject of a previous final judgment of forfeiture in the courts of any state or of the United States. The application for process and the issuance, execution and return of process shall be subject to applicable state law. The court may order that the property be seized and secured on such terms and conditions as are reasonable in the discretion of the court. Such order may include an order to a financial institution or to any fiduciary or bailee to require the entity to impound any property in its possession or control and not to release it except upon further order of the court. The order may be made on or in connection with a search warrant;
       (b) Physically, without process on probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture under this chapter; or
       (c) Constructively, without process on probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture under this chapter, by recording a notice of pending forfeiture in the registry of deeds in the county where the real property is located or at the town clerk's office where the personal property is located stating that the state intends to seek forfeiture of the identified property pursuant to this chapter.
       (d) A seizure for forfeiture without process under subparagraph (b) or (c) is reasonable if made under circumstances in which a warrantless seizure or arrest would be valid in accordance with state law.
    I-c. Upon seizure of any items or property interests the property shall not be subject to alienation, sequestration or attachment but is deemed to be in the custody of the department of justice subject only to the order of the court.
    II. (a) Upon the seizure of any personal property under paragraph I, the person making or directing such seizure shall inventory the items or property interests and issue a copy of the resulting report to any person or persons having a recorded interest, or claiming an equitable interest in the item within 7 days of said seizure.
       (b) Upon seizure of any real property under paragraph I, the person making or directing such seizure shall notify any person having a recorded interest or claiming an equitable interest in the property within 7 days of said seizure.
       (c) The seizing agency shall cause an appraisal to be made of the property as soon as possible and shall promptly send to the department of justice a written request for forfeiture. This request shall include a statement of all facts and circumstances supporting forfeiture of the property, including the names of all witnesses then known, and the appraised value of the property.
       (d) The department of justice shall examine the facts and applicable law of the cases referred pursuant to subparagraph (c), and if it is probable that the property is subject to forfeiture, shall cause the initiation of administrative or judicial proceedings against the property. If upon inquiry and examination, the department of justice determines that such proceedings probably cannot be sustained or that the ends of justice do not require the institution of such proceedings, the department shall make a written report of such findings and send a copy to the seizing agency, and, if appropriate, shall also authorize and direct the release of the property.
       (e) The department of justice shall, within 60 days of the seizure, either file a petition in the superior court having jurisdiction under this section or seek administrative forfeiture pursuant to RSA 318-B:17-d. If no such petition is filed or administrative procedure initiated within 60 days, the items or property interest seized shall be released or returned to the owners.
    II-a. Pending forfeiture and final disposition, the law enforcement agency making the seizure shall:
       (a) Place the property under seal; or
       (b) Remove the property to a storage area for safekeeping; or
       (c) Remove the property to a place designated by the court; or
       (d) Request another agency to take custody of the property and remove it to an appropriate location within the state; or
       (e) In the case of moneys, file a motion for transfer of evidence under RSA 595-A:6. Upon the court's granting of the motion the moneys shall be immediately forwarded to an interest-bearing seized asset escrow account to be administered by the attorney general. Upon resolution of the forfeiture proceeding the moneys deposited shall be transferred to the drug forfeiture fund or returned to the owners thereof as directed by the court. Unless otherwise ordered by a court in a specific case, interest on all moneys deposited in the seized asset escrow account shall be deposited annually into the drug forfeiture fund established under RSA 318-B:17-c.
    III. The court may order forfeiture of all items or property interests subject to the provisions of paragraph I, except as follows:
       (a) No item or property interest shall be subject to forfeiture unless the owner or owners thereof were consenting parties to a felonious violation of this chapter and had knowledge thereof.
       (b) No items or property interests shall be subject to forfeiture unless involved in an offense which may be charged as a felony.
    IV. (a) The department of justice may petition the superior court in the name of the state in the nature of a proceeding in rem to order forfeiture of items or property interests subject to forfeiture under the provisions of this section. Such petition shall be filed in the court having jurisdiction over any related criminal proceedings which could be brought under this chapter.
       (b) Such proceeding shall be deemed a civil suit in equity in which the state shall have the burden of proving all material facts by a preponderance of the evidence and in which the owners or other persons claiming an exception pursuant to paragraph III shall have the burden of proving such exception.
       (c) The court shall issue summonses to all persons who have a recorded interest or claim an equitable interest in said items or property interests seized under this chapter and shall schedule a hearing on the petition to be held within 90 days of the date specified by the court on the summonses.
       (d) At the request of any party to the forfeiture proceeding, the court may grant a continuance until the final resolution of any criminal proceedings which were brought against a party under this chapter and which arose from the transaction which gave rise to the forfeiture proceeding. No asset forfeiture may be maintained against a person's interest in property if that person has been found not guilty of the underlying felonious charge.
       (e) At the hearing, the court shall hear evidence and make findings of fact and rulings of law as to whether the property is subject to forfeiture under this chapter. Except in the case of proceeds, upon a finding that the property is subject to forfeiture the court shall determine whether the forfeiture of the property is not excessive in relation to the underlying criminal offense. In making this determination the court shall consider whether in addition to any other pertinent considerations:
          (1) There is a substantial connection between the property to be forfeited and the underlying drug offense;
          (2) Criminal activities conducted by or through the use of the property were extensive; and
          (3) The value of the property to be forfeited greatly outweighs the value of the drugs that were or would have been likely to be distributed, the costs of the investigation and prosecution, and the harm caused by the criminal conduct.
The court shall, thereupon, make a final order, from which all parties shall have a right of appeal.
    V. Final orders for forfeiture of property under this section or under RSA 318-B:17-d shall be implemented by the department of justice and shall provide for disposition of the items or property interests by the state in any manner not prohibited by law, including retention for official use by law enforcement or other public agencies or sale at public auction. The department of justice shall pay the reasonable expenses of the forfeiture proceeding, seizure, storage, maintenance of custody, advertising, court costs and notice of sale from any money forfeited and from the proceeds of any sale or public auction of forfeited items. All outstanding recorded liens on said items or property interests seized shall be paid in full upon conclusion of the court proceedings from the proceeds of any sale or public auction of forfeited items. The balance remaining shall be distributed by the department of justice as follows:
       (a) Of the first $500,000:
          (1) Forty-five percent shall be returned to the fiscal officer or officers of the municipal, county, state, or federal government which provided the law enforcement agency or agencies responsible for the seizure. Moneys returned to each fiscal officer shall be deposited in a special account and shall be used primarily for meeting expenses incurred by law enforcement agencies in connection with drug-related investigations. Except as provided in RSA 31:95-b, such funds shall be available for expenditure without further appropriation by the legislative body of the municipal, county, state or federal government, and shall not be transferred or expended for any other purpose. Moneys returned to a state law enforcement agency shall be deposited in a special nonlapsing account established within the office of the state treasurer and shall be in addition to all other state appropriations to such agency;
          (2) Ten percent shall be deposited into a special nonlapsing account established within the office of the state treasurer for the department of health and human services; and
          (3) Forty-five percent shall be deposited in a revolving drug forfeiture fund, administered by the department of justice pursuant to RSA 318-B:17-c; and
       (b) Of any balance remaining:
          (1) Ten percent shall be deposited in the manner prescribed in subparagraph V(a)(2) of this section; and
          (2) Ninety percent shall be deposited in the manner prescribed in subparagraph V(a)(3) of this section.
    The total amount of payments made to the special account for the department of health and human services pursuant to subparagraphs V(a)(2) and V(b)(1) of this section shall not exceed $400,000 in any fiscal year and any excess over $400,000 which would otherwise be paid to such special account under this section shall be deposited in the general fund. The revolving drug forfeiture fund shall at no time exceed $1,000,000. All sums in the revolving drug forfeiture fund in excess of $1,000,000 shall be credited to the general fund.

Source. 1981, 166:2. 1983, 292:15. 1985, 327:1-4. 1986, 232:1. 1988, 94:1. 1989, 380:1, 2. 1992, 182:1. 1994, 343:1-3. 1995, 310:177, eff. Nov. 1, 1995. 2014, 204:11, eff. July 11, 2014.


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