MISSISSIPPI FORFEITURE CASES
What Mississippi statute authorizes forfeiture?
Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-29-153, 41-29-176 thru 179.
What property is subject to forfeiture?
All aircraft, vehicles and vessels that are used, or intended to be used, to transport illegally possessed or illegally manufactured controlled substances that are in violation of Article 5 of Chapter 29 (drugs and controlled substances).
What are the notice requirements?
The seizing agency must provide notice of the intent to forfeit the seized property. This notice must be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested or by personal delivery.
The seizing agency has thirty (30) days, from the date of seizure, to institute these proceeding or the property must be immediately returned to the party from whom seized.
How do you respond?
The owner of seized property must file an answer within thirty (30) days after the completion of service of process. If the property owner does not file an answer, the court will hear evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture and forfeit the property to the seizing agency. If, however, an answer is filed, a time will be set within thirty (30) days of filing the answer for a hearing on the forfeiture.
Who may contest a forfeiture proceeding?
Any person or entity claiming right, title or interest in the property may prove such right or interest to be bona fide and created without knowledge or consent that the property was to be used in a manner to cause the property to be subject to the forfeiture.
What is the innocent owner exception?
Where an owner of property can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he did not know of, or did not consent to, the use of such property in a manner that made it subject to forfeiture, forfeiture will be found unwarranted. 1994 Mercury Cougar v. Tishomingo County, 970 So.2d 744 (Miss.2007).
What is the burden of proof?
The government entity has the burden of proof. The standard of proof required is by a preponderance of the evidence.