2017 Tennessee Code
Title 39 - Criminal Offenses
Chapter 11 - General Provisions
Part 7 - Disposition of Forfeited Property
§ 39-11-707. Procedure for seizure of property.
- (a) Any property subject to forfeiture under this part may be seized by the attorney general, the attorney general's agents, or any law enforcement officer, when acting pursuant to a lawful arrest or search, the execution of a search warrant, a petition to abate a nuisance, or a court order. When property is seized under this part, it may be removed by the seizing agency or official to a place to secure the property, it may be preserved as evidence, it may be padlocked as ordered by a court of record, it may be secured by depositing in an interest bearing account as approved by a court of record or it may be secured as otherwise authorized by law regarding the maintenance, storage, or disposition of seized property.
- (b) Upon seizure of property for forfeiture under this part, the seizing agency or official shall cause to be delivered a written receipt and notice of seizure to the possessor, owner and interest holder as determined from public records. The notice shall list and describe generally the property seized, the agency or official responsible for the seizure and shall state the procedure for obtaining return of the property. The seizing agency shall deliver a copy of the notice to the district attorney general of the judicial district where the seizing agency is located or of the judicial district where the seizure occurred.
- (c) Upon the seizure of personal property for forfeiture, the seizing agency shall within five (5) working days, apply ex parte for a forfeiture warrant from a judge authorized to issue a search warrant. Upon a finding that probable cause for forfeiture exists, a forfeiture warrant shall issue. The warrant shall be based upon proof by affidavit that there is probable cause that the owner's interest in the seized property is subject to forfeiture. In the event a forfeiture warrant is not issued, then the property shall immediately be returned unless the property is to be retained for evidence in a criminal proceeding. No forfeiture action for personal property may be filed without the issuance of a forfeiture warrant.
- (d) No claim need be filed by an interest holder and no interest holder may have interest forfeited without service of a complaint for forfeiture under this part.
- (e) The attorney general may file a notice of lien lis pendens against any real property subject to forfeiture under this part. The lien shall generally describe the real property and the reason for forfeiture. The notice shall specify the court and jurisdiction in which the action is pending and, if known at the time of the filing of the notice, the case number of the action. After the filing of the notice of lien lis pendens the state shall, as soon as is practicable, serve a copy of the notice upon any person who has a duly recorded interest in the property as reflected in public records.
- (f) The filing of a notice of lien lis pendens under this part creates, from the time of its filing, a lien in favor of the state on the property described in the notice and subject to forfeiture under this part against the persons named in the notice.
- (g) There shall be no seizure or attachment of real property unless and until a hearing is conducted, with due notice to the owner.
- (h) A possessory lien of a person from whose possession property subject to forfeiture is seized is not affected or prejudiced by a seizure for forfeiture under this part. Such a lien shall take precedence over all other liens.
- (i) A person who acts in good faith and in a reasonable manner to comply with an order of the court or a request of a peace officer while enforcing this part is not liable to any person for acts done in furtherance with the order or request.
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