OVA: Right to return of property

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VICTIM'S RIGHT TO RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY

As a crime victim, you have the right to have personal property seized during the investigation of a crime or seized by the police in connection with an arrest returned.  (C.G.S. §54-203(b)(7)(E)).  The process for seeking the return of personal property is outlined in the law.  (C.G.S. §54-36a).

 

I.        When the property seized was NOT stolen from you but was seized by law enforcement in connection with an arrest or in connection with the execution of a search warrant without an arrest.

 

          A.       Seized property other than currency

 

If the property was seized in connection with a criminal arrest, and is not stolen property (i.e., the property was not stolen from you by the perpetrator in committing the crime), the law enforcement agency that seized the property must file an inventory of the property seized with the clerk of the court where the criminal case is pending using forms provided by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator.

 

If the non-stolen property was seized pursuant to the execution of a search warrant without an arrest, the law enforcement agency that seized the property must file an inventory with the clerk of the court for the geographical area (G.A.) court in which the search warrant was issued using forms provided by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator.

 

At the time of the seizure, law enforcement will give a receipt entitled “RECEIPT FOR SEIZED PROPERTY” for seized property to the person/s from whom the property was seized, or to the person/s having a possessory interest in the premises from which such property was seized.  If you do not receive a receipt for your seized property, you should contact the police, the prosecutor’s office or the court where the case is being prosecuted.  The court will order the return of the property following the final disposition of the criminal action or as soon thereafter as practical, or if there is no criminal action, at any time upon motion of the prosecuting official of such court.  You should contact the prosecutor and ask him or her to file the motion to have such property returned to you under C.G.S. §54-36a(c).  Thereafter, the court will order the return of the property to its owner within six months upon proper claim for it.  The owner has six months from the date that the court orders the return of the seized property to claim the property.

If the owner does not claim the property within six months, the court will order that such property be destroyed or be given to a charitable or educational institution or to a governmental agency or institution.

TIP: As the crime victim, you should consider using the OVA's “Motion for an Order for Return of Property Following the Final Disposition of the Criminal Action” form to inform the court that you desire to have your property returned after the final disposition of the criminal action. This form should be completed and delivered to the court clerk's office and the state attorney’s office in the court where your case was prosecuted. This form will also serve to notify the court that you wish to be notified once the court orders the return of your seized property.

 

          B.       Seized Currency

 

If the seized property is currency and was not stolen and was seized in connection with a criminal arrest, the law enforcement agency seizing the currency must list the currency on a form entitled “RECEIPT FOR SEIZED PROPERTY AND ADVISEMENT OF RIGHTS-SEIZED PROPERTY” and must forward it to the defendant within ten (10) days of the seizure.  The form must also notify the defendant of his/her right to a hearing before the Superior Court on the disposition of the currency.

 

If such non-stolen, seized currency was seized pursuant to a search warrant, the law enforcement agency seizing the currency must list the currency on a form entitled “RECEIPT FOR SEIZED PROPERTY AND ADVISEMENT OF RIGHTS-SEIZED PROPERTY” and must forward it to the person having a possessory interest within ten (10) days of the seizure.  The form must also notify the person having a possessory interest in the premises from which the currency was seized of his/her right to a hearing before the Superior Court on the disposition of the currency.

 

Such defendant or person has thirty (30) days from receipt of the above notice to request a hearing before the Superior Court.  The Court may, after the hearing, order either: (1) that the law enforcement agency deposit the currency in a deposit account in the name of the law enforcement agency as custodian for evidentiary funds at a Connecticut financial institution; or (2) that, for good cause shown, the currency be retained for a period to be determined by the Court.

 

If the defendant or the person does not request a hearing, the law enforcement agency may deposit the currency in a deposit account in the name of the law enforcement agency as custodian for evidentiary funds at a Connecticut financial institution

 

Any withdrawal of funds from such deposit account can occur without a court order directed to the financial institution.  Any withdrawal must be made in the form of a check issued by the financial institution to the law enforcement agency or to such other payee as the Court may order.  The financial institution may charge a fee for the maintenance and administration of the deposit account.

 

II.       When the property seized is stolen property

 

If the seized property is stolen property (including stolen currency) and, in the opinion of law enforcement, the property does not exceed $250.00 in value, law enforcement does not have to file an inventory with the court and may return the stolen property to the owner.  The same is true where during an attempt to steal the property the property remained on the premises in a sealed container at all times.

 

In other cases where the property seized is stolen property (including stolen currency), the law enforcement agency is required to notify the property owner within ten (10) days of the seizure.  If the property owner is not known at the time of seizure, notification will be made within ten (10) days of determining the identification of the owner. 

 

The law enforcement agency is required to list the stolen property on a form entitled “RECEIPT FOR SEIZED PROPERTY AND ADVISEMENT OF RIGHTS-SEIZED PROPERTY” and forward it to the property owner within the required 10 day period. 

 

The owner of such property may request the return of the property by: (1) completing the information below; and (2) filing this form with the law enforcement agency whose address is shown in Section A of the form located in Section A of the form on the front page.   

 

The law enforcement agency must then file the property owner’s request with the clerk of the court where the crime is alleged to have been committed. The court clerk is then required to notify the defendant of the request to return the property to the owner.

 

Within thirty days of the date your request for the return of property is filed by the law enforcement agency, the court must order the return of the property to the owner, except that for good cause shown, the court may order retention of the property for a period of time to be determined by the court.

 

III.      Return of seized property

 

A.       A Court can order the return of seized property that has been stolen from the owner pursuant to Section II above.

 

B.       If the seized property has been adjudicated a nuisance in accordance with C.G.S. § 54-33g or if the Court finds that such property is to be forfeited or is contraband other than a controlled drug, a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in subdivision (8), (9), or (20) of C.G.S. §21a-240, the Court shall order that such property be destroyed or be given to a charitable or educational institution or to a governmental agency or institution except that:

 

(1)      if such property is money, the Court shall order that it be remitted to the state and be deposited in the general fund; or

(2)      if the property is a valuable prize, the Court shall order that it be disposed of by public auction or private sale in which case the proceeds shall become the property of the state and shall be deposited in the general fund.  If any person has a bona fide mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest in such property, that person shall have the same right to the proceeds as s/he had in the property prior to sale.

 

C.       If such property is fireworks as defined in C.G.S. §29-356, the Court shall order the forfeiture and destruction of such property.

 

D.       If such property is found to be a controlled drug, a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in subdivision (8), (9) or (20) of C.G.S. § 21a-240, the Court shall order the forfeiture and destruction of such property or order it delivered to the Commissioner of Consumer Protection pursuant to C.G.S. § 54-36g.

 

E.       For all other such seized property, the Court shall, at the time of final disposition of the criminal matter (or as soon thereafter as is practical), order that such property be returned to its owner within six (6) months after a proper claim is made by the owner.

 

If there is no criminal prosecution, the prosecuting official of the Court may motion the Court, at any time, to order that the property be returned to its owner within six (6) months upon the owner filing a proper claim of such property.

 

If you do not file a request for the return of the property, at the final disposition of the criminal action or as soon after as is practical, the court shall order the return of the property to you upon proper claim therefore within six months.

 


 

IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR RIGHTS AS A CRIME VICTIM HAVE BEEN VIOLATED

CONTACT THE OFFICE OF THE VICTIM ADVOCATE (OVA)

 

To file a formal complaint with the OVA regarding any alleged violation of your rights, you can begin the process by printing, filling-out, and submitting an OVA Complaint Form.

 


§ 54-203. Office of Victim Services established.  Powers and duties

(b) The Office of Victim Services shall have the following powers and duties:

(7)  To provide each person who applies for compensation pursuant to section 54-204, within ten days of the date of receipt of such application, with a written list of rights of victims of crime involving personal injury and the programs available in this state to assist such victims.  The Office of Victim Services, the state or any agent, employee or officer thereof shall not be liable for the failure to supply such list or any alleged inadequacies of such list.  Such list shall include, but not be limited to:

           (E) Subject to the provisions of section 54-36a, the victim shall have the right to have any property the victim owns which was seized by police in connection with an arrest to be returned;

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§ 54-36a. Definitions.  Inventory.  Return of stolen property.  Disposition of other seized property.  Return of compliance

(a) As used in this section, sections 53-278c and 54-36c: (1) "Contraband" means any property, the possession of which is prohibited by any provision of the general statutes; (2) "stolen property" shall include, but not be limited to, cash or the proceeds from the sale of such property obtained by theft or other illegal means; (3) "owner" means a person or persons entitled to seized property as a matter of law or fact.

(b)(1) Whenever property is seized in connection with a criminal arrest or seized pursuant to a search warrant without an arrest, the law enforcement agency seizing such property shall file, on forms provided for this purpose by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, an inventory of the property seized. The inventory, together with the uniform arrest report, in the case of an arrest, shall be filed with the clerk of the court for the geographical area in which the criminal offense is alleged to have been committed; except, when the property is stolen property and, in the opinion of the law enforcement officer, does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars in value, or when an attempt was made to steal the property but the property at all times remained on the premises in a sealed container, the filing of an inventory shall not be required and such property may be returned to the owner. In the case of property seized in connection with a search warrant without an arrest, the inventory shall be attached to the warrant and shall be filed with the clerk of the court for the geographical area in which the search warrant was issued. If any criminal proceeding is transferred to another court location, then the clerk with whom the inventory is filed shall transfer such inventory to the clerk of the court location to which such action is transferred.
(2) If the seized property is stolen property, within ten days of the seizure, the law enforcement agency seizing the property shall notify the owner of the property if known, or, if the owner of the property is unknown at the time of seizure, such agency shall within ten days of any subsequent ascertainment of the owner notify such owner, and, on a form prescribed by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, advise the owner of such owner's rights concerning the property and the location of the property. Such written notice shall include a request form for the return of the property. The owner may request the return of the property by filing such request form with such law enforcement agency, and upon receipt of such request, the law enforcement agency shall forward it to the clerk of the court for the geographical area in which the criminal offense is alleged to have been committed. The clerk of the court shall notify the defendant or defendants of the request to return the property. The court shall order the return of the property within thirty days of the date of filing such return request by the owner, except that for good cause shown, the court may order retention of the property for a period to be determined by the court. Any secondary evidence of the identity, description or value of such property shall be admissible in evidence against such defendant in the trial of such case. The fact that the evidence is secondary in nature may be shown to affect the weight of such evidence, but not to affect its admissibility. If the stolen property is a motor vehicle, a photograph of the motor vehicle and a sworn affidavit attesting to the vehicle identification number of such motor vehicle shall be sufficient evidence of the identity of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this subdivision, "motor vehicle" means a passenger or commercial motor vehicle or a motorcycle, as defined in section 14-1, and includes construction equipment, agricultural tractors and farm implements.  (3)(A) If the seized property is currency and is stolen property, the law enforcement agency seizing the currency shall follow the procedures set forth in subdivision (2) of this subsection.  (B) If the seized property is currency and is not stolen property, the law enforcement agency seizing the currency shall, within ten days of such seizure, notify the defendant or defendants, if such currency was seized in connection with a criminal arrest, or the person or persons having a possessory interest in the premises from which such currency was seized, if such currency was seized pursuant to a search warrant without an arrest, that such defendant or person has the right to a hearing before the Superior Court on the disposition of the currency. Such defendant or person may, not later than thirty days after receiving such notice, request a hearing before the Superior Court. The court may, after any such hearing, order that the law enforcement agency, after taking reasonable measures to preserve the evidentiary value of the currency, deposit the currency in a deposit account in the name of the law enforcement agency as custodian for evidentiary funds at a financial institution in this state or order, for good cause shown, that the currency be retained for a period to be determined by the court. If such defendant or person does not request a hearing, the law enforcement agency may, after taking reasonable measures to preserve the evidentiary value of the currency, deposit the currency in a deposit account in the name of the law enforcement agency as custodian for evidentiary funds at a financial institution in this state.  (C) If the currency is deposited in a deposit account at a financial institution in this state pursuant to subparagraph (B) of this subdivision, the financial institution at which such deposit account is established shall not be required to segregate the currency deposited in such deposit account. No funds may be withdrawn from such deposit account except pursuant to a court order directed to the financial institution. Any withdrawal of funds from such deposit account shall be in the form of a check issued by the financial institution to the law enforcement agency or to such other payee as the court may order. Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit a financial institution from charging a fee for the maintenance and administration of such deposit account and for the review of the court order.  (D) If the currency is deposited in a deposit account at a financial institution in this state pursuant to subparagraph (B) of this subdivision, any secondary evidence of the identity, description or value of such currency shall be admissible in evidence against a defendant in the trial of a criminal offense. The fact that the evidence is secondary in nature may be shown to affect the weight of such evidence, but not to affect its admissibility.

(c) Unless such seized property is stolen property and is ordered returned pursuant to subsection (b) of this section or unless such seized property is adjudicated a nuisance in accordance with section 54-33g, or unless the court finds that such property shall be forfeited or is contraband, or finds that such property is a controlled drug, a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in subdivision (8), (9) or (20) of section 21a-240, it shall, at the final disposition of the criminal action or as soon thereafter as is practical, or, if there is no criminal action, at any time upon motion of the prosecuting official of such court, order the return of such property to its owner within six months upon proper claim therefor.

(d) When the court orders the return of the seized property to the owner, the order shall provide that if the seized property is not claimed by the owner within six months, the property shall be destroyed or be given to a charitable or educational institution or to a governmental agency or institution, except that (1) if such property is money it shall be remitted to the state and shall be deposited in the general fund or (2) if such property is a valuable prize it shall be disposed of by public auction or private sale in which case the proceeds shall become the property of the state and shall be deposited in the general fund; provided any person who has a bona fide mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest in such property shall have the same right to the proceeds as he had in the property prior to the sale.

(e) If such seized property is adjudicated a nuisance or if the court finds that such property shall be forfeited or is contraband other than a controlled drug, a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in subdivision (8), (9) or (20) of section 21a-240, the court shall order that such property be destroyed or be given to a charitable or educational institution or to a governmental agency or institution, except that (1) if such property is money, the court shall order that it be remitted to the state and be deposited in the general fund or (2) if such property is a valuable prize, the court shall order that it be disposed of by public auction or private sale in which case the proceeds shall become the property of the state and shall be deposited in the general fund; provided any person who has a bona fide mortgage, assignment of lease or rent, lien or security interest in such property shall have the same right to the proceeds as he had in the property prior to sale.

(f) If the court finds that such seized property is fireworks as defined in section 29-356, the court shall order the forfeiture and destruction of such property. Any secondary evidence of the identity, description or value of such property shall be admissible in evidence against the defendant in the trial of the case. The fact that the evidence is secondary in nature may be shown to affect the weight of such evidence, but not to affect its admissibility.

(g) If the court finds that such seized property is a controlled drug, a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in subdivision (8), (9) or (20) of section 21a-240, the court shall order the forfeiture and destruction of such property or order it delivered to the Commissioner of Consumer Protection pursuant to section 54-36g.

(h) Any order made under the provisions of subsections (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) of this section or section 54-33f or 54-33g, shall upon notification from the clerk, be complied with by the person or department having custody or possession of such property.

(i) A return of compliance with the court order, on a form prescribed by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, shall be filed with the clerk of the court by the person or department to whom notice is sent in accordance with the provisions of subsection (h) of this section. If the court ordered the seized property returned to the owner within six months upon proper claim therefor, the return of the compliance shall be filed within seventy-two hours of the return of the property to the owner. If the owner does not claim the property within six months, then the return of compliance shall be filed within seventy- two hours of compliance with the order of the court pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Failure to comply with the court order within ninety days following expiration of the period within which the owner of the property may claim the property shall constitute criminal contempt. If the court renders an order concerning the disposition of the property other than an order to return the property to the owner, the return of compliance shall be filed with the clerk within seventy-two hours of compliance with the court order. Failure to comply with the court order within ninety days of receipt of such order shall constitute criminal contempt. Failure to file a return of compliance as set forth in this subsection shall constitute criminal contempt. Anyone convicted of criminal contempt may be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. Each failure to comply with a court order and each failure to file a return of compliance within the required period shall constitute a separate criminal contempt.

(1974, P.A. 74-221, §§ 1 to 6; 1975, P.A. 75-530, §§ 16, 17, eff.
June 30, 1975; 1976, P.A. 76-77, § 1; 1978, P.A. 78-280, § 1, eff. July 1, 1978; 1979, P.A. 79-392; 1981, P.A. 81-240, § 1, eff. July 1, 1981; 1982, P.A. 82-235; 1985, P.A. 85-263, § 1; 1987, P.A. 87- 243; 1987, P.A. 87-294, § 2; 1999, P.A. 99-247, § 5; 2001, P.A. 01- 104; 2001, 01-186, § 8.)

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Content Last Modified on 1/28/2010 2:19:24 PM