☰ Revisor of Missouri

Title XXXVII CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

Chapter 542

Effective - 28 Aug 2014, 2 histories bottom

  542.301.  Disposition of unclaimed seized property — forfeiture to the state, when — allegedly obscene matter, how treated — appeal authorized. — 1.  Property which comes into the custody of an officer or of a court as the result of any seizure and which has not been forfeited pursuant to any other provisions of law or returned to the claimant shall be disposed of as follows:

  (1)  Stolen property, or property acquired in any other manner declared an offense by chapters 569 and 570, but not including any of the property referred to in subdivision (2) of this subsection, shall be delivered by order of court upon claim having been made and established, to the person who is entitled to possession:

  (a)  The claim shall be made by written motion filed with the court with which a motion to suppress has been, or may be, filed.  The claim shall be barred if not made within one year from the date of the seizure;

  (b)  Upon the filing of such motion, the judge shall order notice to be given to all persons interested in the property, including other claimants and the person from whose possession the property was seized, of the time, place and nature of the hearing to be held on the motion.  The notice shall be given in a manner reasonably calculated to reach the attention of all interested persons.  Notice may be given to unknown persons and to persons whose address is unknown by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.  No property shall be delivered to any claimant unless all interested persons have been given a reasonable opportunity to appear and to be heard;

  (c)  After a hearing, the judge shall order the property delivered to the person or persons entitled to possession, if any.  The judge may direct that delivery of property required as evidence in a criminal proceeding shall be postponed until the need no longer exists;

  (d)  A law enforcement officer having custody of seized property may, at any time that seized property has ceased to be useful as evidence, request that the prosecuting attorney of the county in which property was seized file a motion with the court of such county for the disposition of the seized property.  If the prosecuting attorney does not file such motion within sixty days of the request by the law enforcement officer having custody of the seized property, then such officer may request that the attorney general file a written motion with the circuit court of the county or judicial district in which the seizure occurred.  Upon filing of the motion, the court shall issue an order directing the disposition of the property.  Such disposition may, if the property is not claimed within one year from the date of the seizure or if no one establishes a right to it, and the seized property has ceased to be useful as evidence, include a public sale of the property.  Pursuant to a motion properly filed and granted under this section, the proceeds of any sale, less necessary expenses of preservation and sale, shall be paid into the county treasury for the use of the county.  If the property is not salable, the judge may order its destruction.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if no claim is filed within one year of the seizure and no motion pursuant to this section is filed within six months thereafter, and the seized property has ceased to be useful as evidence, the property shall be deemed abandoned, converted to cash and shall be turned over immediately to the treasurer pursuant to section 447.543;

  (e)  If the property is a living animal or is perishable, the judge may, at any time, order it sold at public sale.  The proceeds shall be held in lieu of the property.  A written description of the property sold shall be filed with the judge making the order of sale so that the claimant may identify the property.  If the proceeds are not claimed within the time limited for the claim of the property, the proceeds shall be paid into the county treasury.  If the property is not salable, the judge may order its destruction.

  (2)  Weapons, tools, devices, computers, computer equipment, computer software, computer hardware, cellular telephones, or other devices capable of accessing the internet, and substances other than motor vehicles, aircraft or watercraft, used by the owner or with the owner's consent as a means for committing felonies other than the offense of possessing burglary tools in violation of section 569.180, and property, the possession of which is an offense under the laws of this state or which has been used by the owner, or used with the owner's acquiescence or consent, as a raw material or as an instrument to manufacture, produce, or distribute, or be used as a means of storage of anything the possession of which is an offense under the laws of this state, or which any statute authorizes or directs to be seized, other than lawfully possessed weapons seized by an officer incident to an arrest, shall be forfeited to the state of Missouri.

  2.  The officer who has custody of the property shall inform the prosecuting attorney of the fact of seizure and of the nature of the property.  The prosecuting attorney shall thereupon file a written motion with the court with which the motion to suppress has been, or may be, filed praying for an order directing the forfeiture of the property.  If the prosecuting attorney of a county in which property is seized fails to file a motion with the court for the disposition of the seized property within sixty days of the request by a law enforcement officer, the officer having custody of the seized property may request the attorney general to file a written motion with the circuit court of the county or judicial district in which the seizure occurred.  Upon filing of the motion, the court shall issue an order directing the disposition of the property.  The signed motion shall be returned to the requesting agency.  A motion may also be filed by any person claiming the right to possession of the property praying that the court declare the property not subject to forfeiture and order it delivered to the moving party.

  3.  Upon the filing of a motion either by the prosecuting attorney or by a claimant, the judge shall order notice to be given to all persons interested in the property, including the person out of whose possession the property was seized and any lienors, of the time, place and nature of the hearing to be held on the motion.  The notice shall be given in a manner reasonably calculated to reach the attention of all interested persons.  Notice may be given to unknown persons and to persons of unknown address by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.  Every interested person shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appear and to be heard as to the nature of the person's claim to the property and upon the issue of whether or not it is subject to forfeiture.

  4.  If the evidence is clear and convincing that the property in issue is in fact of a kind subject to forfeiture under this subsection, the judge shall declare it forfeited and order its destruction or sale.  The judge shall direct that the destruction or sale of property needed as evidence in a criminal proceeding shall be postponed until this need no longer exists.

  5.  If the forfeited property can be put to a lawful use, it may be ordered sold after any alterations which are necessary to adapt it to a lawful use have been made.  In the case of computers, computer equipment, computer software, computer hardware, cellular telephones, or other devices capable of accessing the internet, or other devices used in the acquisition, possession, or distribution of child pornography or obscene material, the law enforcement agency in possession of such items may, upon court order, retain possession of such property and convert such property to the use of the law enforcement agency for use in criminal investigations.  If there is a holder of a bona fide lien against property which has been used as a means for committing an offense or which has been used as a raw material or as an instrument to manufacture or produce anything which is an offense to possess, who establishes that the use was without the lienholder's acquiescence or consent, the proceeds, less necessary expenses of preservation and sale, shall be paid to the lienholder to the amount of the lienholder's lien.  The remaining amount shall be paid into the county treasury.

  6.  If the property is perishable the judge may order it sold at a public sale or destroyed, as may be appropriate, prior to a hearing.  The proceeds of a sale, less necessary expenses of preservation and sale, shall be held in lieu of the property.

  7.  When a warrant has been issued to search for and seize allegedly obscene matter for forfeiture to the state, after an adversary hearing, the judge, upon return of the warrant with the matter seized, shall give notice of the fact to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the matter was seized and the dealer, exhibitor or displayer and shall conduct further adversary proceedings to determine whether the matter is subject to forfeiture.  If the evidence is clear and convincing that the matter is obscene as defined by law and it was being held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to the public, the judge shall declare it to be obscene and forfeited to the state and order its destruction or other disposition; except that, no forfeiture shall be declared without the dealer, distributor or displayer being given a reasonable opportunity to appear in opposition and without the judge having thoroughly examined each item.  If the material to be seized is the same as or another copy of matter that has already been determined to be obscene in a criminal proceeding against the dealer, exhibitor, displayer or such person's agent, the determination of obscenity in the criminal proceeding shall constitute clear and convincing evidence that the matter to be forfeited pursuant to this subsection is obscene.  Except when the dealer, exhibitor or displayer consents to a longer period, or by such person's actions or pleadings willfully prevents the prompt resolution of the hearing, judgment shall be rendered within ten days of the return of the warrant.  If the matter is not found to be obscene or is not found to have been held or displayed for sale, exhibition or distribution to the public, or a judgment is not entered within the time provided for, the matter shall be restored forthwith to the dealer, exhibitor or displayer.

  8.  If an appeal is taken by the dealer, exhibitor or displayer from an adverse judgment, the case should be assigned for hearing at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.  Destruction or disposition of a matter declared forfeited shall be postponed until the judgment has become final by exhaustion of appeal, or by expiration of the time for appeal, and until the matter is no longer needed as evidence in a criminal proceeding.

  9.  A determination of obscenity, pursuant to this subsection, shall not be admissible in any criminal proceeding against any person or corporation for sale or possession of obscene matter; except that dealer, distributor or displayer from which the obscene matter was seized for forfeiture to the state.

  10.  When allegedly obscene matter or pornographic material for minors has been seized under a search warrant issued pursuant to subsection 2 of section 542.281 and the matter is no longer needed as evidence in a criminal proceeding the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the matter was seized may file a written motion with the circuit court of the county or judicial district in which the seizure occurred praying for an order directing the forfeiture of the matter.  Upon filing of the motion, the court shall set a date for a hearing.  Written notice of date, time, place and nature of the hearing shall be personally served upon the owner, dealer, exhibitor, displayer or such person's agent.  Such notice shall be served no less than five days before the hearing.

  11.  If the evidence is clear and convincing that the matter is obscene as defined by law, and that the obscene material was being held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to the public or that the matter is pornographic for minors and that the pornographic material was being held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to minors, the judge shall declare it to be obscene or pornographic for minors and forfeited to the state and order its destruction or other disposition.  A determination that the matter is obscene in a criminal proceeding as well as a determination that such obscene material was held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to the public or a determination that the matter is pornographic for minors in a criminal proceeding as well as a determination that such pornographic material was held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to minors shall be clear and convincing evidence that such material should be forfeited to the state; except that, no forfeiture shall be declared without the dealer, distributor or displayer being given a reasonable opportunity to appear in opposition and without a judge having thoroughly examined each item.  A dealer, distributor or displayer shall have had reasonable opportunity to appear in opposition if the matter the prosecutor seeks to destroy is the same matter that formed the basis of a criminal proceeding against the dealer, distributor or displayer where the dealer, distributor or displayer has been charged and found guilty of holding or displaying for sale, exhibiting, distributing or circulating obscene material to the public or pornographic material for minors to minors.  If the matter is not found to be obscene, or if obscene material is not found to have been held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to the public, or if the matter is not found to be pornographic for minors or if pornographic material is not found to have been held or displayed for sale, exhibition, distribution or circulation to minors, the matter shall be restored forthwith to the dealer, exhibitor or displayer.

  12.  If an appeal is taken by the dealer, exhibitor or displayer from an adverse judgment, the case shall be assigned for hearing at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.  Destruction or disposition of matter declared forfeited shall be postponed until the judgment has become final by exhaustion of appeal, or by expiration of the time for appeal, and until the matter is no longer needed as evidence in a criminal proceeding.

  13.  A determination of obscenity shall not be admissible in any criminal proceeding against any person or corporation for sale or possession of obscene matter.

  14.  An appeal by any party shall be allowed from the judgment of the court as in other civil actions.

  15.  All other property still in the custody of an officer or of a court as the result of any seizure and which has not been forfeited pursuant to this section or any other provision of law after three years following the seizure and which has ceased to be useful as evidence shall be deemed abandoned, converted to cash and shall be turned over immediately to the treasurer pursuant to section 447.543.

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(L. 1974 S.B. 366 § 9, A.L. 1980 H.B. 1528 Revision, A.L. 1987 H.B. 113, et al., A.L. 1998 H.B. 931, A.L. 2002 S.B. 1248, A.L. 2012 S.B. 628, A.L. 2014 H.B. 1298 Revision)


---- end of effective   28 Aug 2014 ----

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542.301 8/28/2014
542.301 8/28/2012 8/28/2014

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