State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Mississippi > Title-49 > 15 > 49-15-203

§ 49-15-203. Answer; hearing in contested cases; order of forfeiture; rights of parties holding liens or security interests in property subject to forfeiture.
 

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in Section 49-15-207, an owner of property that has been seized pursuant to Section 49-15-21 or 59-21-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, 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 Department of Marine Resources or 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 Department of Marine Resources, 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. 

(2)  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 this article shall be by a preponderance of the evidence. 

(3)  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. 

(4)  If it is found that the property is subject to forfeiture, then the judge shall forfeit the property to the Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency. However, if proof at the hearing discloses that the interest of any bona fide lien holder, secured party, 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 Department of Marine Resources or the local law enforcement agency. 
 

Sources: Laws, 2002, ch. 340, § 2, eff from and after July 1, 2002.