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§ 97-3-111. Forfeiture Of Vehicles Used In Drive-By Shootings Or Bombings

(1) All vehicles which are used in any manner to facilitate the discharging of a firearm or the throwing or ejection of a bomb or explosive device in violation of Section 97-3-109 shall be subject to forfeiture, however:

(a) No conveyance used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier is subject to forfeiture under this section unless it appears that the owner or other person in charge of the conveyance is a consenting party or privy to a violation of Section 97-3-109 and this section;

(b) No conveyance is subject to forfeiture under this section by reason of any act or omission proved by the owner thereof to have been committed or omitted without his knowledge or consent; if the confiscating authority has reason to believe that the conveyance is a leased or rented conveyance, then the confiscating authority shall notify the owner of the conveyance within five (5) days of the confiscation;

(c) A forfeiture of a conveyance encumbered by a bona fide security interest is subject to the interest of the secured party if he neither had knowledge of nor consented to the act or omission.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (16), when any property is seized pursuant to subsection (1), proceedings under this section shall be instituted promptly.

(3) A petition for forfeiture shall be filed promptly in the name of the State of Mississippi, the county or the municipality and may be filed in the county in which the seizure is made, the county in which the criminal prosecution is brought or the county in which the owner of the seized property is found. Forfeiture proceedings may be brought in (a) the circuit court, or (b) the county court if a county court exists in the county and the value of the seized property is within the jurisdictional limits of the county court as set forth in Section 9-9-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, or (c) the youth court in the case of a person adjudicated delinquent where the underlying basis for the delinquency is a violation of Section 97-3-109, Mississippi Code of 1972. A copy of such petition shall be served upon the following persons by service of process in the same manner as in civil cases:

(a) The owner of the property, if address is known;

(b) Any secured party who has registered his lien or filed a financing statement as provided by law, if the identity of such secured party can be ascertained by the local law enforcement agency by making a good faith effort to ascertain the identity of such secured party as described in subsections (4), (5), (6), (7) and (8) of this section;

(c) Any other bona fide lienholder or secured party or other person holding an interest in the property in the nature of a security interest of whom the local law enforcement agency has actual knowledge; and

(d) Any person in possession of property subject to forfeiture at the time that it was seized.

(4) If the property is a motor vehicle susceptible of titling under the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Title Law and if there is any reasonable cause to believe that the vehicle has been titled, the local law enforcement agency shall make inquiry of the State Tax Commission as to what the records of the State Tax Commission show as to who is the record owner of the vehicle and who, if anyone, holds any lien or security interest which affects the vehicle.

(5) If the property is a motor vehicle and is not titled in the State of Mississippi, then the local law enforcement agency shall attempt to ascertain the name and address of the person in whose name the vehicle is licensed, and if the vehicle is licensed in a state which has in effect a certificate of title law, the local law enforcement agency shall make inquiry of the appropriate agency of that state as to what the records of the agency show as to who is the record owner of the vehicle and who, if anyone, holds any lien, security interest or other instrument in the nature of a security device which affects the vehicle.

(6) In the event the answer to an inquiry states that the record owner of the property is any person other than the person who was in possession of it when it was seized, or states that any person holds any lien, encumbrance, security interest or other interest which affects the property, the local law enforcement agency shall cause any record owner and also any lienholder, secured party or other person who holds an interest in the property in the nature of a security interest which affects the property to be named in the petition of forfeiture and to be served with process in the same manner as in civil cases.

(7) If the owner of the property cannot be found and served with a copy of the

petition of forfeiture, or if no person was in possession of the property

subject to forfeiture at the time that it was seized and the owner of the

property is unknown, the local law enforcement agency shall file with the

clerk of the court in which the proceeding is pending an affidavit to such

effect, whereupon the clerk of the court shall publish notice of the hearing

addressed to "the Unknown Owner of ", filling in the blank space with a

reasonably detailed description of the property subject to forfeiture. Service

by publication shall contain the other requisites prescribed in Section

11-33-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall be served as provided in Section

11-33-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, for publication of notice for attachments

at law.

(8) No proceedings instituted pursuant to the provisions of this section shall proceed to hearing unless the judge conducting the hearing is satisfied that this section has been complied with. Any answer received from an inquiry required by subsections (4) through (5) of this section shall be introduced into evidence at the hearing.

(9) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (16), an owner of property that has been seized pursuant to subsection (1) shall file an answer within thirty (30) days after the completion of service of process. If an answer is not filed, the court shall hear evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture and forfeit the property to the local law enforcement agency. If an answer is filed, a time for hearing on forfeiture shall be set within thirty (30) days of filing the answer or at the succeeding term of court, if court would not be in progress within thirty (30) days after filing the answer. Provided, however, that upon request by the local law enforcement agency or the owner of the property, the court may postpone said forfeiture hearing to a date past the time any criminal action is pending against said owner.

(10) If the owner of the property has filed an answer denying that the property is subject to forfeiture, then the burden is on the petitioner to prove that the property is subject to forfeiture. However, if an answer has not been filed by the owner of the property, the petition for forfeiture may be introduced into evidence and is prima facie evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. The standard of proof placed upon the petitioner in regard to property forfeited under the provisions of Section 97-3-109 and this section shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.

(11) At the hearing any claimant of any right, title or interest in the property may prove his lien, encumbrance, security interest or other interest in the nature of a security interest to be bona fide and created without knowledge or consent that the property was to be used so as to cause the property to be subject to forfeiture.

(12) If it is found that the property is subject to forfeiture, then the judge shall forfeit the property to the local law enforcement agency. However, if proof at the hearing discloses that the interest of any bona fide lienholder, secured party or other person holding an interest in the property in the nature of a security interest is greater than or equal to the present value of the property, the court shall order the property released to him. If such interest is less than the present value of the property and if the proof shows that the property is subject to forfeiture, the court shall order the property forfeited to the local law enforcement agency.

(13) All other property which is forfeited under this section shall be liquidated and, after deduction of court costs and the expenses of liquidation, the proceeds shall be divided and deposited as follows:

(a) In the event only one (1) law enforcement agency participates in the underlying criminal case out of which the forfeiture arises, fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer and deposited in the General Fund of the state and fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds shall be deposited and credited to the budget of the participating law enforcement agency.

(b) In the event more than one (1) law enforcement agency participates in the underlying criminal case out of which the forfeiture arises, fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds shall be deposited and credited to the budget of the law enforcement agency whose officers initiated the criminal case and fifty percent (50%) shall be divided equitably between or among the other participating law enforcement agencies, and shall be deposited and credited to the budgets of the participating law enforcement agencies. In the event that the other participating law enforcement agencies cannot agree on the division of their fifty percent (50%), a petition shall be filed by any one (1) of them in the court in which the civil forfeiture case is brought and the court shall make an equitable division.

(14) All other property that has been forfeited shall, except as otherwise provided, be sold at a public auction for cash by the chief law enforcement officer of the initiating law enforcement 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 such sale, in a newspaper having a general circulation in the jurisdiction in which said law enforcement agency is located. Such notices shall contain a description of the property to be sold and a statement of the time and place of sale. It shall not be necessary to the validity of such sale either to have the property present at the place of sale or to have the name of the owner thereof stated in such notice. The proceeds of the sale shall be disposed of as follows:

(a) To any bona fide lienholder, 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 be divided, forwarded and deposited in the same manner set out in subsection (13) of this section.

(15) The State Tax Commission shall issue a certificate of title to any person who purchases property under the provisions of this section when a certificate of title is required under the laws of this state.

(16) When any property the value of which does not exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($ 5,000.00) is seized pursuant to subsection (1), the property may be forfeited by the administrative forfeiture procedures provided for in subsections (16) through (22).

(17) The attorney for the seizing law enforcement agency shall provide notice of intention to forfeit the seized property administratively, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all persons who are required to be notified.

(18) In the event that notice of intention to forfeit the seized property administratively cannot be given as provided in subsection (17) of this section because of refusal, failure to claim, insufficient address or any other reason, the attorney for the seizing law enforcement agency shall provide notice by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the seizure occurred for once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks.

(19) Notice pursuant to subsections (17) and (18) of this section shall include the following information:

(a) A description of the property;

(b) The approximate value of the property;

(c) The date and place of the seizure;

(d) The connection between the property and the violation of Section 97-3-109;

(e) The instructions for filing a request for judicial review; and

(f) A statement that the property will be forfeited to the seizing law enforcement agency if a request for judicial review is not timely filed.

(20) Persons claiming an interest in the seized property may initiate judicial review of the seizure and proposed forfeiture by filing a request for judicial review with the attorney for the seizing law enforcement agency, within thirty (30) days after receipt of the certified letter or within thirty (30) days after the first publication of notice, whichever is applicable.

(21) If no request for judicial review is timely filed, the attorney for the seizing law enforcement agency shall prepare a written declaration of forfeiture of the subject property and the forfeited property shall be used, distributed or disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(22) Upon receipt of a timely request for judicial review, the attorney for the seizing law enforcement agency shall promptly file a petition for forfeiture and proceed as provided in subsections (3) through (15). SOURCES: Laws, 1993, ch. 376, § 2; Laws, 1995, ch. 608, § 3, eff from and after July 1, 1995.

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Local Government
Mississippi
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Phil Bryant
Phil Bryant
January 10, 2012 -
Republican
1-601-351-5023
200 South Lamar, Suite 800, Jackson, MS, 39201

Keywords
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enforcement
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vehicle
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security