State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Mississippi > Title-49 > 15 > 49-15-201

§ 49-15-201. Institution of forfeiture proceedings; petition for forfeiture; inquiry into ownership, lien, or other security interest in seized motor vehicle, aircraft, or other personal property subject to forfeiture; notice of forfeiture hearing to any person holding interest in seized property.
 

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in Section 49-15-207, when any property is seized pursuant to Section 49-15-21 or 59-21-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, proceedings under this section shall be instituted promptly. The seizing law enforcement agency may, in the sound exercise of discretion, decide not to bring a forfeiture action if the interests of bona fide lien holders or secured creditors equal or exceed the value of the seized property, or if other factors would produce a negative economic result. No property shall be subject to forfeiture which has been stolen from its owner if the owner can be identified and prosecution for the theft has been initiated. 

(2)  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 the circuit court or 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. 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 Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency by making a good faith effort to ascertain the identity of such secured party as described in subsections (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) of this section; 

(c) Any other bona fide lien holder or secured party or other person holding an interest in the property in the nature of a security interest of whom the Department of Marine Resources or 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. 

(3)  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 Department of Marine Resources or 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. 

(4)  If the property is a motor vehicle and is not titled in the State of Mississippi, then the Department of Marine Resources or 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 Department of Marine Resources or 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. 

(5)  If the property is of a nature that a financing statement is required by the laws of this state to be filed to perfect a security interest affecting the property and if there is any reasonable cause to believe that a financing statement covering the security interest has been filed under the laws of this state, the Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency shall make inquiry of the appropriate office designated in Section 75-9-501, Mississippi Code of 1972, as to what the records show as to who is the record owner of the property and who, if anyone, has filed a financing statement affecting the property. 

(6)  If the property is an aircraft or part thereof and if there is any reasonable cause to believe that an instrument in the nature of a security device affects the property, then the Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency shall make inquiry as to what the records of the Federal Aviation Administration show as to who is the record owner of the property and who, if anyone, holds an instrument in the nature of a security device which affects the property. 

(7)  In the case of all other personal property subject to forfeiture, if there is any reasonable cause to believe that an instrument in the nature of a security device affects the property, then the Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency shall make a good faith inquiry to identify the holder of any such instrument. 

(8)  If 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, other interest in the nature of a security interest, mortgage or deed of trust which affects the property, the Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency shall cause any record owner and also any lien holder, secured party, 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. 

(9)  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 Department of Marine Resources or 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. 

(10)  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 (3) through (7) of this section shall be introduced into evidence at the hearing. 
 

Sources: Laws, 2002, ch. 340, § 1, eff from and after July 1, 2002.