§ 991a-19. Seizure of property--Forfeiture for sale--Notice and hearing--Petition for return--Release of property
A. Any peace officer of this state shall seize any property, except property exempt under Section 1 of Title 31 of the Oklahoma Statutes, to be held until a forfeiture for sale has been declared or release ordered.
B. Within ten (10) days from the time the property is seized, notice of seizure and intended forfeiture proceeding shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the district court for the county in which the property is seized and shall be given all owners and parties in interest.
C. Notice shall be given by the party seeking forfeiture and sale according to the following methods:
1. Upon each owner or party in interest whose right, title or interest is of record at the Tax Commission, by mailing a copy of the notice by certified mail to the address shown upon the records of the Tax Commission;
2. Upon each owner or party in interest whose name and address is known to the attorney or the party seeking the action to recover unpaid restitution, by mailing a copy of the notice by registered mail to the last-known address; and
3. Upon all other owners or interested parties, whose addresses are unknown, but who are believed to have an interest in the property, by one publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the seizure was made.
D. Within sixty (60) days after the mailing and publication of the notice, the owner of the property and any other party in interest or claimant may file a verified answer and claim to the property described in the notice.
E. If at the end of sixty (60) days after the notice has been mailed or published there is no verified answer on file, the court shall hear evidence upon the fact of exemption under Section 1 of Title 31 of the Oklahoma Statutes and shall order the property forfeited and sold to pay restitution, if such property is not proved exempt.
F. If a verified answer is filed, the forfeiture for sale proceeding shall be set for hearing not less than ten (10) days nor more than sixty (60) days after the filing of the answer.
G. At a hearing on the forfeiture, the evidence of ownership and exemption under Section 1 of Title 31 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall be satisfied by a preponderance of the evidence.
H. The claimant of any right, title or interest in the property may prove a lien, mortgage or conditional sales contract to be a bona fide ownership interest by a preponderance of the evidence.
I. In the event of such proof, the court shall order the property released to the bona fide owner, lienholder, mortgagee or vendor if the amount due such party is equal to, or in excess of, the value of the property as of the date of the seizure, it being the intention of this section to forfeit only the right, title or interest of the offender.
J. If the amount due to such person is less than the value of the property, or if no bona fide claim is established, the property shall be forfeited and sold under judgment of the court, as on sale upon execution.
K. Property taken or detained under this section shall not be repleviable, but shall be deemed to be in the custody of the office of the district attorney of the county in which the property was seized, subject only to the orders and decrees of the court having jurisdiction thereof.
L. The proceeds of the sale of any property shall be distributed as follows, in the order indicated:
1. To the bona fide purchaser, conditional sales vendor or mortgagee of the property, if any, up to the amount of such party’s interest in the property, when the court declaring the forfeiture orders a distribution to such person;
2. To the payment of the actual expenses of storing the property;
3. To the payment of court costs and costs of the sheriff in conducting the sale;
4. To the payment of restitution to the victim; and
5. The balance of the proceeds of such sale shall be paid to the defendant.
M. If the court finds that the party seeking the forfeiture failed to satisfy the requirements provided for in subsection G of this section, the court shall order the property released to the owner or owners.
N. Upon failure to give the notice of seizure and intended forfeiture as provided in subsections B and C of this section, any owner or party in interest may petition the court for return of the property. The court shall schedule a hearing within ten (10) days of the filing of the petition for return of the property. The petitioner shall be required to prove ownership interest or other claim to the property, and the court shall return the property if the claim is proved by a preponderance of the evidence and the property is not otherwise required as evidence in a criminal prosecution. Failure to give the notice of seizure and intended forfeiture shall not be construed to prohibit, deny, void or dismiss any criminal prosecution or serve as grounds for any motion to suppress evidence.
O. In addition to other provisions of this section, seized property shall be released upon the following conditions:
1. Dismissal of a forfeiture proceeding;
2. Failure to file criminal charges within ninety (90) days from the date of seizure, provided the property is held as evidence and not forfeited to the state or returned to an owner or party in interest as provided in subsection N of this section. Provided, however, the district attorney may request the court to grant an extension beyond the ninety-day limitation for filing charges if a criminal investigation may result in charges being filed after that time. If an extension to file criminal charges is granted, the seized property may be held until the court orders the property released; or
3. Dismissal or acquittal of criminal charges, provided the property is held as evidence and not forfeited to the state or returned to an owner or party in interest as provided in subsection N of this section.