Montana Title 44. Law Enforcement § 44-12-210. Forfeiture upon criminal conviction--hearing




(1) Upon conviction of a defendant for a criminal offense providing for forfeiture of property upon conviction and upon notice to all persons known to have an interest in the property pursuant to subsection (2), the court shall hold a hearing to determine whether the property must be forfeited pursuant to 44-12-207 and disposed of as provided in 44-12-212 and 44-12-213 or, in the case of forfeiture for theft of commonly domesticated hoofed animals or illegal branding or altering or obscuring a brand, 45-6-329.  Unless the defendant requests separate proceedings, a proceeding for the criminal offense providing for forfeiture of property must be held in conjunction with a proceeding for the forfeiture of the property.

(2) Pursuant to subsection (1), a peace officer or an officer of the agency that seized the property shall notify all persons known to have an interest in the property by one of the following methods:

(a) for a person whose address is known, by personal service of a copy of the notice;  or

(b) for a person whose address is unknown, by publication in one issue of a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the seizure occurred or, if there is no such newspaper, by publication in one issue of a newspaper of general circulation in an adjoining county, and by mailing a copy of the notice to the most recent address of the person having an ownership interest in the property, if any, shown in the records of the department of justice.

(3) To establish that the seized property is subject to forfeiture under this chapter, a peace officer or an officer of an agency that seizes any property other than controlled substances must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the property was used in connection with or constitutes proceeds from the commission of the criminal offense.

(4) Seized property is not subject to forfeiture if an owner can establish that the owner is an innocent owner as provided in 44-12-211.

(5) A bona fide security interest is not subject to forfeiture unless the person claiming a security interest had actual knowledge that the property was subject to forfeiture at the time that the property was seized under this chapter.  A person claiming a security interest bears the burden of production and must establish the validity of the interest by clear and convincing evidence.


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