California Code, Government Code - GOV § 27491.3

(a) In any death into which the coroner is to inquire, the coroner may take charge of any and all personal effects, valuables, and property of the deceased at the scene of death or related to the inquiry and hold or safeguard them until lawful disposition thereof can be made.  The coroner may lock the premises and apply a seal to the door or doors prohibiting entrance to the premises, pending arrival of a legally authorized representative of the deceased.  However, this shall not be done in such a manner as to interfere with the investigation being conducted by other law enforcement agencies.  Any costs arising from the premises being locked or sealed while occupied by property of the deceased may be a proper and legal charge against the estate of the deceased.  Unless expressly permitted by law, any person who enters any premises or tampers with or removes any lock or seal in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Any property or evidence related to the investigation or prosecution of any known or suspected criminal death may, with knowledge of the coroner, be delivered to a law enforcement agency or district attorney, receipt for which shall be acknowledged.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (d), any person who searches for or removes any papers, moneys, valuable property or weapons constituting the estate of the deceased from the person of the deceased or from the premises, prior to arrival of the coroner or without the permission of the coroner, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  At the scene of any death, when it is immediately apparent or when it has not been previously recognized and the coroner's examination reveals that police investigation or criminal prosecution may ensue, the coroner shall not further disturb the body or any related evidence until the law enforcement agency has had reasonable opportunity to respond to the scene, if their purposes so require and they so request.  Custody and control of the body shall remain with the coroner at all times.  Reasonable time at the scene shall be allowed by the coroner for criminal investigation by other law enforcement agencies, with the time and location of removal of the remains to a convenient place to be determined at the discretion of the coroner.

(d) A peace officer may search the person or property on or about the person of the deceased, whose death is due to a traffic accident, for a driver's license or identification card to determine if an anatomical donor card is attached.  If a peace officer locates such an anatomical donor card which indicates that the deceased is an anatomical donor, the peace officer shall immediately furnish such information to the coroner having jurisdiction.

“Peace Officer,” as used in this subdivision, means only those persons designated in Sections 830.1 and 830.2 of the Penal Code .


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