Seizure and forfeiture of property.
The following are subject to seizure and forfeiture:
(1) All visual or printed matter that depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
(2) All raw materials, equipment, and other tangible personal property of any kind used or intended to be used to manufacture or process any visual or printed matter that depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and all conveyances, including aircraft, vehicles, or vessels that are used or intended for use to transport, or in any manner to facilitate the transportation of, visual or printed matter in violation of RCW 9.68A.050 or 9.68A.060, but:
(a) No conveyance used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier is subject to forfeiture under this section unless it appears that the owner or other person in charge of the conveyance is a consenting party or privy to a violation of this chapter;
(b) No property is subject to forfeiture under this section by reason of any act or omission established by the owner of the property to have been committed or omitted without the owner's knowledge or consent;
(c) A forfeiture of property encumbered by a bona fide security interest is subject to the interest of the secured party if the secured party neither had knowledge of nor consented to the act or omission; and
(d) When the owner of a conveyance has been arrested under this chapter the conveyance may not be subject to forfeiture unless it is seized or process is issued for its seizure within ten days of the owner's arrest.
(3) All personal property, moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other tangible or intangible property furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, or constituting proceeds traceable to any violation of this chapter.
(4) Property subject to forfeiture under this chapter may be seized by any law enforcement officer of this state upon process issued by any superior court having jurisdiction over the property. Seizure without process may be made if:
(a) The seizure is incident to an arrest or a search under a search warrant or an inspection under an administrative inspection warrant;
(b) The property subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state in a criminal injunction or forfeiture proceeding based upon this chapter;
(c) A law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the property is directly or indirectly dangerous to health or safety; or
(d) The law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the property was used or is intended to be used in violation of this chapter.
(5) In the event of seizure under subsection (4) of this section, proceedings for forfeiture shall be deemed commenced by the seizure. The law enforcement agency under whose authority the seizure was made shall cause notice to be served within fifteen days following the seizure on the owner of the property seized and the person in charge thereof and any person having any known right or interest therein, of the seizure and intended forfeiture of the seized property. The notice may be served by any method authorized by law or court rule including but not limited to service by certified mail with return receipt requested. Service by mail shall be deemed complete upon mailing within the fifteen day period following the seizure.
(6) If no person notifies the seizing law enforcement agency in writing of the person's claim of ownership or right to possession of seized items within forty-five days of the seizure, the item seized shall be deemed forfeited.
(7) If any person notifies the seizing law enforcement agency in writing of the person's claim of ownership or right to possession of seized items within forty-five days of the seizure, the person or persons shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard as to the claim or right. The hearing shall be before an administrative law judge appointed under chapter 34.12 RCW, except that any person asserting a claim or right may remove the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction if the aggregate value of the article or articles involved is more than five hundred dollars. The hearing before an administrative law judge and any appeal therefrom shall be under Title 34 RCW. In a court hearing between two or more claimants to the article or articles involved, the prevailing party shall be entitled to a judgment for costs and reasonable attorney's fees. The burden of producing evidence shall be upon the person claiming to be the lawful owner or the person claiming to have the lawful right to possession of the seized items. The seizing law enforcement agency shall promptly return the article or articles to the claimant upon a determination by the administrative law judge or court that the claimant is lawfully entitled to possession thereof of the seized items.
(8) If property is sought to be forfeited on the ground that it constitutes proceeds traceable to a violation of this chapter, the seizing law enforcement agency must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property constitutes proceeds traceable to a violation of this chapter.
(9) When property is forfeited under this chapter the seizing law enforcement agency may:
(a) Retain it for official use or upon application by any law enforcement agency of this state release the property to that agency for the exclusive use of enforcing this chapter;
(b) Sell that which is not required to be destroyed by law and which is not harmful to the public. The proceeds and all moneys forfeited under this chapter shall be used for payment of all proper expenses of the investigation leading to the seizure, including any money delivered to the subject of the investigation by the law enforcement agency, and of the proceedings for forfeiture and sale, including expenses of seizure, maintenance of custody, advertising, actual costs of the prosecuting or city attorney, and court costs. Fifty percent of the money remaining after payment of these expenses shall be deposited in the state general fund and fifty percent shall be deposited in the general fund of the state, county, or city of the seizing law enforcement agency; or
(c) Request the appropriate sheriff or director of public safety to take custody of the property and remove it for disposition in accordance with law.
[2009 c 479 § 12; 1999 c 143 § 8; 1984 c 262 § 11.]
| Effective date -- 2009 c 479: See note following RCW 2.56.030.|