Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 19.2. Criminal Procedure
Chapter 22.1. Enforcement of Forfeitures
11/26/2020

§ 19.2-386.1. Commencing an action of forfeiture.

A. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, whenever any property is forfeited to the Commonwealth by reason of the violation of any law, or if any statute provides for the forfeiture of any property or money, or if any property or money be seized as forfeited for a violation of any of the provisions of this Code, the Commonwealth shall follow the procedures set forth in this chapter.

B. An action against any property subject to seizure under the provisions of Chapter 22.2 (§ 19.2-386.15 et seq.) shall be commenced by the filing of an information in the clerk's office of the circuit court. Any information shall be filed in the name of the Commonwealth by the attorney for the Commonwealth or may be filed by the Attorney General if so requested by the attorney for the Commonwealth. Venue for an action of forfeiture shall lie in the county or city where (i) the property is located, (ii) the property is seized, or (iii) an owner of the property or the person in whose custody the property is found could be prosecuted for the illegal conduct alleged to give rise to the forfeiture. Such information shall (a) name as parties defendant all owners and lienholders then known or of record and the trustees named in any deed of trust securing such lienholder, (b) specifically describe the property, (c) set forth in general terms the grounds for forfeiture of the named property, (d) pray that the same be condemned and sold or otherwise be disposed of according to law, and (e) ask that all persons concerned or interested be notified to appear and show cause why such property should not be forfeited. In all cases, an information shall be filed within three years of the date of actual discovery by the Commonwealth of the last act giving rise to the forfeiture or the action for forfeiture will be barred.

C. Any action of forfeiture commenced under this section shall be stayed until the court in which the owner of the property or the person in whose custody the property is found is being prosecuted for an offense authorizing the forfeiture finds the owner or the person in whose custody the property is found guilty of any offense that authorizes forfeiture of such property, and any property eligible for forfeiture under the provisions of any statute shall be forfeited only upon such finding of guilt of the owner or the person in whose custody the property is found, regardless of whether the owner or the person in whose custody the property is found has been sentenced. If no such finding is made by the court, all property seized shall be released from seizure no later than 21 days from the date the stay terminates. However, property that has been seized may be forfeited pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter even though no finding of guilt is made if (i) such forfeiture is ordered by a court pursuant to a lawful plea agreement or (ii) the owner of the property or the person in whose custody the property was found has not submitted a written demand for the return of the property with the law-enforcement agency that seized the property within 21 days from the date the stay terminates.

1989, c. 690; 1991, c. 560; 2002, cc. 588, 623; 2004, c. 995; 2012, cc. 283, 756; 2020, c. 1000.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.