Civil forfeiture of real property
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all civil forfeitures of real property and interests in real property shall proceed as judicial forfeitures.
(1) Except as provided in this section—
real property that is the subject of a civil forfeiture action shall not be seized before entry of an order of forfeiture; and
the owners or occupants of the real property shall not be evicted from, or otherwise deprived of the use and enjoyment of, real property that is the subject of a pending forfeiture action.
The filing of a lis pendens and the execution of a writ of entry for the purpose of conducting an inspection and inventory of the property shall not be considered a seizure under this subsection.
(1) The Government shall initiate a civil forfeiture action against real property by—
filing a complaint for forfeiture;
posting a notice of the complaint on the property; and
serving notice on the property owner, along with a copy of the complaint.
(2) If the property owner cannot be served with the notice under paragraph (1) because the owner—
resides outside the United States and efforts at service pursuant to rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are unavailing; or
cannot be located despite the exercise of due diligence,
constructive service may be made in accordance with the laws of the State in which the property is located.
If real property has been posted in accordance with this subsection, it shall not be necessary for the court to issue an arrest warrant in rem, or to take any other action to establish in rem jurisdiction over the property.
(1) Real property may be seized prior to the entry of an order of forfeiture if—
the Government notifies the court that it intends to seize the property before trial; and
(B) the court—
issues a notice of application for warrant, causes the notice to be served on the property owner and posted on the property, and conducts a hearing in which the property owner has a meaningful opportunity to be heard; or
makes an ex parte determination that there is probable cause for the forfeiture and that there are exigent circumstances that permit the Government to seize the property without prior notice and an opportunity for the property owner to be heard.
For purposes of paragraph (1)(B)(ii), to establish exigent circumstances, the Government shall show that less restrictive measures such as a lis pendens, restraining order, or bond would not suffice to protect the Government’s interests in preventing the sale, destruction, or continued unlawful use of the real property.
If the court authorizes a seizure of real property under subsection (d)(1)(B)(ii), it shall conduct a prompt post-seizure hearing during which the property owner shall have an opportunity to contest the basis for the seizure.
(f) This section—
applies only to civil forfeitures of real property and interests in real property;
does not apply to forfeitures of the proceeds of the sale of such property or interests, or of money or other assets intended to be used to acquire such property or interests; and
shall not affect the authority of the court to enter a restraining order relating to real property.
References in Text
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, referred to in subsec. (c)(2)(B), are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
Section applicable to any forfeiture proceeding commenced on or after the date that is 120 days after Apr. 25, 2000, see section 21 of Pub. L. 106–185, set out as an Effective Date of 2000 Amendment note under section 1324 of Title 8, Aliens and Nationality.
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