Reference Number: 
CTAS-1292

Upon the seizure of any personal property subject to forfeiture pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-33-201, the seizing officer must prepare a receipt entitled "Notice of Seizure" and provide the person found in possession of the property, if known, a copy of the receipt. The notice of seizure is a standard form promulgated by the agency charged by law or permitted by agreement with conducting the forfeiture proceeding for the particular property seized. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(a) and (c). The notice of seizure must contain the following:

  1. A general description of the property seized and, if the property is money, the amount seized;
  2. The date the property was seized and the date the notice of seizure was given to the person in possession of the seized property;
  3. The vehicle identification number (VIN) if the property seized is a motor vehicle;
  4. The reason the seizing officer believes the property is subject to seizure and forfeiture;
  5. The procedure by which recovery of the property may be sought, including any time periods during which a claim for recovery must be submitted; and
  6. The consequences that will attach if no claim for recovery is filed within the applicable time period.

T.C.A. § 40-33-203(c). See Holt v. Young, 2001 WL 1285880, *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001).

Upon the seizure of a conveyance, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the owner or owners of the property seized as reflected by public records of titles, registrations and other recorded documents. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(1). If the conveyance seized is a commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier and the person in possession of the vehicle at the time of seizure does not have an ownership interest in the vehicle, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the owner of the conveyance and notify the owner of the seizure. If the cargo is not contraband and is not subject to forfeiture under some other provision of state or federal law, the seizing agency must release the cargo to the owner or transporting agent upon request. If the interest of the owner of the commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier is not subject to forfeiture under T.C.A. § 40-33-210(a)(2), then the vehicle or carrier is not subject to forfeiture, and the seizing officer may not seek a forfeiture warrant. The seizing agency must release the vehicle or carrier to the owner or transporting agent upon request. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(2) and (b)(4). For purposes of T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b), "commercial vehicle" includes a private passenger motor vehicle that is used for retail rental for periods of 31 days or less.

If the conveyance seized is a commercial vehicle or common or contract carrier and the person in possession of the vehicle at the time of seizure has an ownership interest in the vehicle, the seizing officer must make reasonable efforts to determine the common or contract carrier responsible for conveying the cargo and notify the carrier of the seizure. If the cargo is not contraband and is not subject to forfeiture under some other provision of state or federal law, the seizing agency must release the cargo to the owner or transporting agent upon request. T.C.A. § 40-33-203(b)(3).