2022 Wyoming Statutes
Title 7 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 2 - Peace Officers
Section 7-2-105 - Disposition and Appraisal of Property Seized or Held; Notice and Order to Show Cause; Judgment.

Universal Citation: WY Stat § 7-2-105 (2022)

7-2-105. Disposition and appraisal of property seized or held; notice and order to show cause; judgment.

(a) When personal property not subject to be summarily destroyed is seized or held by any peace officer pursuant to any law of this state, or when property seized by any peace officer is delivered to the appropriate law enforcement agency under provisions other than W.S. 35-7-1049, or property is taken into custody as lost, mislaid or abandoned, the head of the law enforcement agency shall forthwith ascertain as closely as practicable:

(i) The approximate value of the property;

(ii) The facts giving rise to the seizure or custody;

(iii) The name and position of the person making the seizure or taking the property into custody;

(iv) The name and address of the owners of the property or those persons who were in possession of the property at the time of the seizure;

(v) The names and addresses of all persons known to have an interest in the property seized.

(b) Any property seized by a peace officer shall be delivered immediately to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The head of the law enforcement agency shall maintain custody of the property pending an order of disposal by the court pursuant to this section unless the property is otherwise released according to this section.

(c) If the property is lost, mislaid, abandoned or unclaimed or if possession of the property is unlawful, the law enforcement agency shall seek in circuit court or district court an order to show cause why the property should not be sold or forfeited and sold at public auction or transferred to the use of the law enforcement agency. If the lawful owner of the property can reasonably be ascertained, the property shall be delivered to him without judicial action unless the property constitutes evidence of a crime, the possession of the property would be unlawful or ownership and interest are in dispute.

(d) Notice and proceedings on the order to show cause shall be according to the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure, provided notice by publication shall be once each week for two (2) consecutive weeks. The trial of the issues shall be by the court.

(e) On final hearing the order to show cause shall be taken as prima facie evidence that the property is abandoned or unclaimed and is sufficient for a judgment of forfeiture in the absence of other proof.

(f) In disputed ownership cases the burden shall be upon the claimants to show that they are the lawful owners or have a legally recognizable interest in the property.

(g) When the property is encumbered, the court shall, after deducting costs, direct the payment of the encumbrance from the proceeds of any sale of the property or distribute the property equitably between those persons having a legal interest.

(h) The proceedings and judgment of forfeiture shall be in rem and shall be primarily against the property itself.

(j) Upon the entry of a judgment of forfeiture the court shall determine the disposition to be made of the property, which may include the destruction or sale of the property or the allocation of the property to some other governmental function or use or otherwise, as the court may determine.

(k) Sale of the property shall be at public auction to the highest bidder for cash after two (2) weeks public notice as the court may direct.

(m) Upon the application of any claimant, the court may fix the value of a forfeitable interest in the seized property and permit the claimant to redeem the property upon the payment of a sum equal to the value, which sum shall be disposed of as would the proceeds of the sale of the property under a judgment of forfeiture.

(n) The balance of the proceeds, if any, shall be deposited in the general operating account of the state, county or municipal entity that has fiscal authority over the law enforcement agency confiscating the property.

(o) This section does not apply to property which is subject to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, W.S. 34-24-101 through 34-24-140.

(p) For purposes of this section, seized property that is not subject to W.S. 35-7-1049 may be summarily destroyed, provided the lawful owner has been contacted and has declined to take possession of the property, including:

(i) Evidence that is no longer needed for the prosecution of a case, or needed for purposes of appellate review of the case;

(ii) Evidence in misdemeanor cases in which the district attorney has determined that no suspect has been identified or prosecution has not been pursued for at least one (1) year;

(iii) Evidence in felony cases in which the district attorney has determined that no suspect has been identified or prosecution has not been pursued for at least five (5) years;

(iv) Soiled, defective, broken or demolished personal property, or waste.

(q) Items of found property with a value of not more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for which the owner cannot be located, or if the owner has not responded after contact was attempted by the law enforcement agency, may be disposed of after the latter of:

(i) Thirty (30) days after the agency has determined that the owner cannot be located; or

(ii) Thirty (30) days after the agency has attempted on at least three (3) nonconsecutive days to contact the owner without response from the owner.

(r) Law enforcement agencies shall preserve biological material that was seized or recovered as evidence in the investigation or prosecution that resulted in a conviction or adjudication as a delinquent for a crime of violence and not consumed in previous DNA testing. The biological material shall be preserved for five (5) years or, except as provided in this section, for as long as any person incarcerated in connection with the case or investigation remains in custody, whichever is longer. Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary in this section, effective July 1, 2008 a law enforcement agency may dispose of the biological material after five (5) years if the law enforcement agency notifies any person who remains incarcerated in connection with the investigation or prosecution and any counsel of record for such person, or if there is no counsel of record, the state public defender, of the intention to dispose of the evidence and the law enforcement agency affords the person not less than one hundred eighty (180) days after the notification to file a motion for DNA testing or preservation of the biological material. The law enforcement agency shall not be required to preserve evidence that is required to be, and has been, returned to its rightful owner, or is of such a size, bulk or physical character as to render retention impracticable. If practicable, the law enforcement agency shall remove and preserve representative portions of the biological material sufficient to permit future DNA testing before returning or disposing of the material.

(s) Whoever willfully or maliciously destroys, alters, conceals or tampers with evidence that is required to be preserved under subsection (r) of this section with the intent to impair the integrity of that evidence, to prevent that evidence from being subjected to DNA testing or to prevent the production or use of that evidence in an official proceeding shall upon conviction be subject to a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, or both.

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