How to File a Claim Opposing Forfeiture of Property Seized by the Police
Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.
Click here to download this Step-By-Step guide as a pdf.
This packet includes:
- Step by Step Instructions
- Sample Claim Opposing Forfeiture (Judicial Council Form MC-200)
- Sample Civil Case Coversheet (Judicial Council Form CM-010)
This guide is intended to provide a simple description of how to prepare a Claim Opposing Forfeiture in Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court has different requirements.
California Health and Safety Code Sections 11469-11495 allow local law enforcement agencies to seize property believed to be connected with controlled substances criminal activity. If the property is personal property worth $25,000 or less and no timely claims are filed a prosecuting agency may, after notifying all potentially interested parties and publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was seized, issue a declaration of forfeiture without having to go to court. This is called an administrative (nonjudicial) forfeiture action.
If a Claim Opposing Forfeiture is timely filed and served, however, the prosecuting agency must file a petition for judicial forfeiture within 30 days after receipt of the claim; otherwise, it loses the right to maintain custody of the seized property.
You must file your Claim Opposing Forfeiture within 30 days after you receive personal or mailed notice that your property may be forfeited. If you do not receive personal or mailed notice, you must file your claim within 30 days after notice is first published in a newspaper.
Your Claim Opposing Forfeiture must be filed in the county where the property was seized. If you have received a notice, you can find the address of the court on that notice.
Within 30 days after filing your claim, you must serve a copy on the District Attorney. The copy you serve must have the courts' filing stamp on it.
There is no filing fee if the value of the contested property as specified in the notice is $5,000 or less. If the value is over $5,000, the clerk must charge the uniform fee for the first filing paper in a civil action, which is based on the amount of your claim. Current fees are available on the Sacramento County Superior Court's website. A Step-by-Step Guide to requesting a Fee Waiver is available on the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/fee-waiver.aspx .
Because a Claim Opposing Forfeiture is considered a new civil case, the Claim must be accompanied by a Civil Case Coversheet (Judicial Council Form CM-010) pursuant to California Rule of Court 3.220.
Step 1: Completing the Claim Opposing Forfeiture (Judicial Council Form MC-200)
- Type or write your name, address, and telephone number in the box that says "Attorney or Party Without Attorney."
- Where it says "Attorney for" type or write "Claimant In Pro Per," which means you are representing yourself.
- Beside "Claimant" type or write your name.
- Beside "Claimed Property" insert a description of the property that was seized, e.g., "$1457.82 in U.S. Currency."
- In the box titled "CLAIM OPPOSING FORFEITURE (Health & Saf. Code, § 11488.5," check "in response to notice of administrative proceedings." The clerk will insert a case number when you file your documents.
- In paragraph 1 type or write your name and indicate whether you are an individual, corporation, or other.
- In paragraph 2 type or write a description of the property was seized, e.g., "$1457.82 in U.S. Currency."
- In paragraph 3 type or write the value of the seized property. If the value of your property is $5,000 or less there will be no filing fee. If the value is higher than $5,000 you will need to pay a filing fee or request a Fee Waiver.
Claim Opposing Forfeiture (MC-200), Page 1 (Click here for full sized version)
- In paragraph 4 insert a check in the appropriate box.
- In paragraph 5 insert a check in the appropriate box. If you mark the box that states "part," specify the nature, amount, or percentage of your interest in the property.
- In paragraph 6 insert a check in the appropriate box[es]. If you marked box 5a then you would mark box 6a. If you marked box 5b then you would mark box 6b. Always mark box 6c.
- If you are attaching any additional pages insert the number in paragraph 7.
- Type or print your name and date; sign on the line provided.
- Verification: date and sign on the lines provided.
Claim Opposing Forfeiture (MC-200), Page 2 (Click here for full sized version)
Step 2: Completing the Civil Case Cover Sheet (Judicial Council Form CM-010)
This form is used by the court for statistical purposes, and is required when filing any Claim Opposing Forfeiture.
- In the top box that says "ATTORNEY OR PARTY WITHOUT ATTORNEY" type or write your name, mailing address, and optionally phone number. On the line that says "ATTORNEY FOR" write "Claimant In Pro Per."
- In the box below write the court's information. In Sacramento,
- In the box that says "CIVIL CASE COVER SHEET" mark the box that says "Limited."
- In paragraph 1, check the box for "Asset Forfeiture,"which is under the section labeled Judicial Review in the box.
- In paragraph 2 indicate that the case is not complex.
- In paragraph 3 indicate that you are seeking nonmonetary, declarative or injunctive relief.
- In paragraph 4, indicate that there is one cause of action.
- In paragraph 5, note that this is not a class action lawsuit.
- Finally, date, print your name, and sign where indicated.
- The second page of the Civil Case Cover Sheet is instructional only, and is not necessary.
Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM-010), Page 1 (Click here for full sized version)
Step 3: Copying and Assembling
Make three copies of each:
- Claim Opposing Forfeiture (Judicial Council Form MC-200)
- Civil Case Coversheet (Judicial Council Form CM-010)
In the Sacramento County Superior Court, because documents are scanned into a computer, any multiple page original documents are left unstapled, while each copy is stapled. In courts that do not electronically scan, all are stapled, and the original is two-hole punched at the top of the page for insertion into a folder.
Step 4: Filing
Take your completed packet to the civil filing window in Room 102 on the first floor of the Courthouse at 720 Ninth Street.
If your claim is less than $5,000 no filing fee will be required. Claims above $5,000 require filing fees, based on the amount of your claim. Current fees are listed on the Sacramento County Superior Court's website. No fees will be collected at the time of filing if you also file a Request to Waive Court Fees.
The court will keep your original documents, and will stamp the copies with an endorsement and case number and return the copies to you.
Step 5: Service of Claim Opposing Forfeiture
You must have a court-stamped, or endorsed, copy of your Claim Opposing Forfeiture served on the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office within 30 days of filing your Claim Opposing Forfeiture. You cannot serve the Claim Opposing Forfeiture yourself; you must have a person over the age of 18 who is not a party to your action do it for you. That person must sign a Proof of Service by Mail (POS-030) form, which must also be filed with the court. For instructions on how to fill out the Proof of Service by Mail form, see our "Proof of Service by Mail" Step-by-Step guide at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/pos-mail.aspx.
Complete the Proof of Service form, but do not sign it. Make a copy of the unsigned proof of service before proceeding.
The person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the case must then mail a copy of the Claim Opposing Forfeiture, along with a copy of the unsigned proof of service form, to the District Attorney's Office. The envelope should be addressed to: District Attorney, Asset Forfeiture Division, 901 G Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
The person mailing the documents then signs the Proof of Service form and gives the signed Proof of Service to you.
Step 6: Copy the Signed Proof of Service and File
Make one copy of the signed, completed Proof of Service Form and take the original and the copy to the civil filing window in Room 102 on the first floor of the Courthouse at 720 Ninth Street. Your stamped copy will be returned to you for your records.
Step 7: What happens next?
Generally when the District Attorney's Office receives your Claim Opposing Forfeiture, they will file a Petition for Forfeiture, beginning a judicial forfeiture action in court, and start pretrial discovery in accordance with standard civil procedure. To learn more about how to respond to these discovery requests, you may attend the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center's Introduction to Written Discovery Class, which is held the first and third Thursdays of each month at 1:30 p.m. Please bring a flash drive to download the proper forms to use to respond. You may also attend the Discovery Lab, which is held the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, to complete your responses. You only have 30 days in which to respond to these discovery requests. Claimants who fail to comply with discovery orders risk having sanctions imposed, which may include striking claims and awarding a default judgment to the seizing entity.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
At the Law Library
California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice, KFC 1155 .C35
Chap. 57, Asset Forfeiture
California Criminal Law Forms Manual, KFC 1155.A68 C34
Chap. 57, Asset Forfeiture
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.
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