Action of forfeiture; disposal of property; exemptions.
Prohibits the forfeiture of any moneys or motor vehicle subject to seizure if (i) the total value of moneys does not exceed $200 or (ii) the fair market value of the motor vehicle does not exceed $2,000. The bill permits an innocent owner claimant, defined in the bill, or lien holder to petition the court for a hearing at any time prior to the commencement of the criminal trial, directs the court to hear such petition within 30 days or at the court's discretion before the court alone and without a jury, and permits the court to consolidate such hearing with any other hearing related to the case before the court. The bill requires a lawful plea agreement in a prosecution for a criminal offense authorizing the forfeiture of property to dispose of all property seized, regardless of whether a civil case has been initiated, provided that the innocent owner claimant and any lien holder consent to the forfeiture. The bill provides that if the criminal case is dismissed, all property shall be returned to the defendant, all civil cases shall be dismissed, and the dismissal shall mark an end to all claims on the property seized. Under current law, if the court does not find a person guilty of a criminal offense that initiated the property seizure, then the court shall release all property within 21 days from the date the stay terminated; however, property may still be forfeited if ordered by lawful plea agreement or the owner of the property or the person who possessed the property when seized has not submitted a written demand for the return of the property to the law-enforcement agency that seized the property within 21 days from the date the stay terminated. The bill waives court fees for any person prosecuted for an offense authorizing forfeiture who is acquitted of such offense or an innocent owner claimant.
Link to Official Bill Page