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Bill Number: 3283 Ratification Number: 547 Act Number 462 Introducing Body: House Subject: Forfeiture of conveyances
(A462, R547, H3283)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 44-63-530, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO FORFEITURE AND DISPOSITION OF CONVEYANCES USED TO TRANSPORT ILLEGAL DRUGS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH FORFEITURE MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY PETITION OF THE SOLICITOR OF THE CIRCUIT IN WHICH THE SEIZURE WAS MADE AND TO PROVIDE THAT THE CIRCUIT SOLICITOR MAY ALSO DISPOSE OF THE CONVEYANCES IN THE SAME MANNER AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL; AND TO AMEND SECTION 1-7-140, RELATING TO REPORTS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH REPORTS WILL INCLUDE REPORTING OF THE DISPOSITION OF WARRANTS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 1-7-330, RELATING TO SOLICITORS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT SOLICITORS SHALL HAVE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL OF THE DOCKETS OF THE COURT OF GENERAL SESSIONS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Forfeiture of conveyances
Section 1. Subsections (2) and (3) of Section 44-53-530 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 185 of 1979, are further amended to read:
"(2) Forfeiture of such conveyances shall be accomplished by petition of the Attorney General or his designee in the case of water vessels and aircraft, and by petition of the Attorney General or his designee or the circuit solicitor or his designee in the case of any other conveyance to the circuit court setting forth the facts upon which the seizure was made, along with,the make, model and year of the conveyance, the person in whose name the conveyance is registered, the person who holds the title thereto, and the type and quantity of the controlled substance found in the forfeited conveyance. After hearing, upon due notice to the registered owner and any lienholder of record with the Department of Highways and Public Transportation in the case of a motor vehicle, or lienholder of record with the applicable governmental agency in the case of any other conveyance, the court shall determine whether or not the conveyance is subject to forfeiture under the provisions of this section, with due consideration to the interest of any of the following innocent parties: owner, parent, legal guardian or lienholder, including a finding as to whether or not a lawful arrest, search and seizure were made for an offense which involves the conveyance seized. If the judge shall find the conveyance to be subject to forfeiture, he shall issue an order declaring such conveyance to be forfeited to the State and ordering transfer of title to such conveyance to the agency designated by the Attorney General or the circuit solicitor. Provided, that the procedure for forfeiture provided by this subsection shall be authorized only in the circuits in which the arrest was made or the vehicle seized.
(3) Whenever property is forfeited under the provisions of this section, the Attorney General or the circuit solicitor effecting the forfeiture may in his discretion:
(a) As to property other than water vessels and aircraft, provide for the transfer of title to such property to the law enforcement agency making the seizure. Any such law enforcement agency is authorized to own and use such forfeited conveyance for law enforcement and to transfer title of the conveyance to any other law enforcement agency for use in law enforcement. Any forfeited conveyance so used for law enforcement may be subsequently sold by the law enforcement agency holding title, the sale to be conducted through the South Carolina Division of General Services and the net proceeds of any such sale to be transmitted to and divided equally between the State and the unit of government of the agency making the seizure.
(b) As to water vessels and aircraft, provide for the transfer of title to such conveyance to the law enforcement agency making the seizure or to the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission in the case of forfeited aircraft, or to the South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department in the case of forfeited water vessels. Any transferee agency holding title to water vessels and aircraft seized and forfeited under the provisions of this section is authorized to own and use such conveyances for law enforcement or other lawful agency use. Any forfeited water vessel or aircraft may be subsequently sold by the agency holding title, the sale to be conducted through the South Carolina Division of General Services and the net proceeds of sale being remitted to the State Treasurer to be placed in the general fund.
(c) Require that the Division of General Services take custody of and sell the property, the net proceeds from any such sale to be remitted to the State Treasurer to be placed in the general fund.
For the purpose of this section, whenever the seizure of property is accomplished as a result of a joint effort by more than one law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency initiating the investigation shall be deemed to be the agency making the seizure."
Attorney General to make annual report
Section 2. Section 1-7-140 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 1-7-140. The Attorney General shall annually make a report to the General Assembly of:
(1) the cases argued, tried or conducted by him in the Supreme Court and circuit courts during the preceding year,
(2) warrants issued in the courts of the State and the status and disposition of those warrants, and
(3) such other information in relation to the criminal laws and such observations and statements as, in his opinion, the proper and efficient administration of the criminal law requires; provided, however, that preparation of the criminal docket report, and development and implementation of a warrant tracking system shall reside exclusively with the Attorney General and no funds shall be appropriated to or expended by any other agency of state government which would in any way duplicate such reporting and tracking; provided, further, that all courts, and other appropriate agencies shall furnish to the Attorney General, in such form and manner as he may require, information to aid in the preparation of the criminal docket report and the warrant tracking system."
Preparation of documents exclusively vested in solicitor
Section 3. Section 1-7-330 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 1-7-330. The solicitors shall attend the courts of general sessions for their respective circuits. Preparation of the dockets for general sessions courts shall be exclusively vested in the circuit solicitor and the solicitor shall determine the order in which cases on the docket are called for trial. Provided, however, that no later than seven days prior to the beginning of each term of general sessions court, the solicitor in each circuit shall prepare and publish a docket setting forth the cases to be called for trial during the term."
Section 4. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.