A common problem faced by people arrested on drug charges in Alabama is that law enforcement is also seeking to seize their property under Alabama’s forfeiture statute. Because this issue arises so frequently in court, we have copied Alabama’s forfeiture statute below for easy reference for our readers.
(a) The following are subject to forfeiture:
(1) All controlled substances which have been grown, manufactured, distributed, dispensed, or acquired in violation of any law of this state;
(2) All raw materials, products, and equipment of any kind which are used or intended for use in manufacturing, cultivating, growing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, or exporting any controlled substance in violation of any law of this state;
(3) All property which is used or intended for use as a container for property described in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection;
(4) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance in violation of any law of this state; all proceeds traceable to such an exchange; and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of any law of this state concerning controlled substances;
(5) All conveyances, including aircraft, vehicles, or vessels, or agricultural machinery, which are used, or are intended for use, to transport, or in any manner to facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession, or concealment of any property described in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection;
(6) All books, records, and research products and materials, including formulas, microfilm, tapes, and data, which are used or intended for use in violation of any law of this state concerning controlled substances;
(7) All imitation controlled substances as defined under the laws of this state;
(8) All real property or fixtures used or intended to be used for the manufacture, cultivation, growth, receipt, storage, handling, distribution, or sale of any controlled substance in violation of any law of this state;
(9) All property of any type whatsoever constituting, or derived from, any proceeds obtained directly, or indirectly, from any violation of any law of this state concerning controlled substances;
(b) Property subject to forfeiture under this chapter may be seized by state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies upon process issued by any court having jurisdiction over the property. Seizure without process may be made if:
(1) The seizure is incident to an arrest or a search under a search warrant or an inspection under an administrative inspection warrant;
(2) The property subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state in a criminal injunction or forfeiture proceeding based upon this chapter;
(3) The state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that the property is directly or indirectly dangerous to health or safety; or
(4) The state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that the property was used or is intended to be used in violation of this chapter.
(c) In the event of seizure pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, proceedings under subsection (d) of this section shall be instituted promptly.
(d) Property taken or detained under this section shall not be subject to replevin but is deemed to be in the custody of the state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency subject only to the orders and judgment of the court having jurisdiction over the forfeiture proceedings. When property is seized under this chapter, the state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency may:
(1) Place the property under seal;
(2) Remove the property to a place designated by it;
(3) Require the state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency to take custody of the property and remove it to an appropriate location for disposition in accordance with law; and
(4) In the case of real property or fixtures, post notice of the seizure on the property, and file and record notice of the seizure in the probate office.
(e) When property is forfeited under this chapter the state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency may:
(1) Retain it for official use; except for lawful currency (money) of the United States of America which shall be disposed of in the same manner provided for the disposal of proceeds from a sale in subdivision (e)(2) of this section;
(2) Sell that which is not required to be destroyed by law and which is not harmful to the public. The proceeds from the sale authorized by this subsection shall be used, first, for payment of all proper expenses of the proceedings for forfeiture and sale, including expenses of seizure, maintenance of or custody, advertising, and court costs; and the remaining proceeds from such sale shall be awarded and distributed by the court to the municipal law enforcement agency or department, and/or county law enforcement agency or department, and/or state law enforcement agency or department, following a determination of the court of whose law enforcement agencies or departments are determined by the court to have been a participant in the investigation resulting in the seizure, and such award and distribution shall be made on the basis of the percentage as determined by the court, which the respective agency or department contributed to the police work resulting in the seizure. Provided however, any proceeds from sales authorized by this section awarded by the court to a county or municipal law enforcement agency or department shall be deposited into the respective county or municipal general fund and made available to the affected law enforcement agency or department upon requisition of the chief law enforcement official of such agency or department.
(3) Require the state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency to take custody of the property and remove it for disposition in accordance with law.
(f) Controlled substances listed in Schedule I that are possessed, transferred, sold, or offered for sale in violation of any law of this state are contraband and shall be seized and summarily forfeited to the state. Controlled substances listed in Schedule I which are seized or come into the possession of the state, the owners of which are unknown, are contraband and shall be summarily forfeited to the state.
(g) Species of plants from which controlled substances in Schedules I and II may be derived which have been planted or cultivated in violation of any law of this state or of which the owners or cultivators are unknown or which are wild growths may be seized and summarily forfeited to the state.
(h) An owner’s or bona fide lienholder’s interest in real property or fixtures shall not be forfeited under this section for any act or omission unless the state proves that that act or omission was committed or omitted with the knowledge or consent of that owner or lienholder. An owner’s or bona fide lienholder’s interest in any type of property other than real property and fixtures shall be forfeited under this section unless the owner or bona fide lienholder proves both that the act or omission subjecting the property to forfeiture was committed or omitted without the owner’s or lienholder’s knowledge or consent and that the owner or lienholder could not have obtained by the exercise of reasonable diligence knowledge of the intended illegal use of the property so as to have prevented such use. Except as specifically provided to the contrary in this section, the procedures for the condemnation and forfeiture of property seized under this section shall be governed by and shall conform to the procedures set out in Sections 28-4-286 through 28-4-290, except that: (1) the burden of proof and standard of proof shall be as set out in this subsection instead of as set out in the last three lines of Section 28-4-290; and (2) the official filing the complaint shall also serve a copy of it on any person, corporation, or other entity having a perfected security interest in the property that is known to that official or that can be discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence.
(Acts 1971, No. 1407, p. 2378, §504; Acts 1981, No. 81-413, p. 650; Acts 1982, No. 82-426, p. 670, §4; Acts 1983, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 83-131, p. 137, §1; Acts 1988, No. 88-651, p. 1038, §2; Acts 1989, No. 89-525, p. 1074; Acts 1990, No. 90-472, p. 689, §1.)
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