19 CFR § 162.95 - Release of seized property.

§ 162.95 Release of seized property.

(a) Generally. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, a claimant to seized property under 18 U.S.C. 983(a) is entitled to immediate release of the property if:

(1) The claimant has a possessory interest in the property;

(2) The claimant has sufficient ties to the community to provide assurance that the property will be available at the time of trial;

(3) The continued possession of the property by Customs pending the final disposition of forfeiture proceedings will cause substantial hardship to the claimant, such as preventing an individual from working, or leaving an individual homeless; and

(4) The claimant's likely hardship from the continued possession by Customs of the seized property outweighs the risk that the property will be destroyed, damaged, lost, concealed, or transferred if it is returned to the claimant during the pendency of the proceedings.

(b) Exceptions. Immediate release of seized property under paragraph (a) of this section will not apply if the seized property:

(1) Is contraband, currency or other monetary instrument, or electronic funds, unless, in the case of currency, other monetary instrument or electronic funds, such property comprises the assets of a legitimate business which has been seized;

(2) Is to be used as evidence of a violation of the law;

(3) By reason of design or other characteristic, is particularly suited for use in illegal activities; or

(4) Is likely to be used to commit additional criminal acts if returned to the claimant.

(c) Request for release. A claimant seeking release of property under this section must request possession of the property from the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Officer who issued the notice of seizure. The request need not be made in any particular form, but must be in writing and set forth the basis on which the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section have been met. The request may be filed at any time during which the property remains under seizure.

(d) Granting request for release. The Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Officer may release the property if it is determined to be appropriate under paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.

(e) Denial of or failure to act on request for release. If the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Officer denies the request for release or fails to make a decision on the request by the 15th calendar day after the date the request is received by Customs, the claimant may file a petition in the district court in which the complaint has been filed, or, if no complaint has been filed, in the U.S. district court in which the seizure warrant was issued or in the U.S. district court for the district in which the property was seized.

[T.D. 00–88, 65 FR 78091, Dec. 14, 2000, as amended by T.D. 02–08, 67 FR 9191, Feb. 28, 2002]