Home
gpo.gov
govinfo.gov

e-CFR Navigation Aids

Browse

Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity

 

Search History

Search Tips

Corrections

Latest Updates

User Info

FAQs

Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

We invite you to try out our new beta eCFR site at https://ecfr.federalregister.gov. We have made big changes to make the eCFR easier to use. Be sure to leave feedback using the Help button on the bottom right of each page!

e-CFR data is current as of September 24, 2020

Title 28Chapter IPart 8 → Subpart A


Title 28: Judicial Administration
PART 8—FORFEITURE AUTHORITY FOR CERTAIN STATUTES


Subpart A—Seizure and Forfeiture of Property


Contents
§8.1   Scope of regulations.
§8.2   Definitions.
§8.3   Seizing property subject to forfeiture.
§8.4   Inventory.
§8.5   Custody.
§8.6   Appraisal.
§8.7   Release before claim.
§8.8   Commencing the administrative forfeiture proceeding.
§8.9   Notice of administrative forfeiture.
§8.10   Claims.
§8.11   Interplay of administrative and criminal judicial forfeiture proceedings.
§8.12   Declaration of administrative forfeiture.
§8.13   Return of property pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(3)(B).
§8.14   Disposition of property before forfeiture.
§8.15   Requests for hardship release of seized property.
§8.16   Attorney fees and costs.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.1   Scope of regulations.

(a) This part applies to all forfeitures administered by the Department of Justice with the exception of seizures and forfeitures under the statutes listed in 18 U.S.C. 983(i)(2). The authority of seizing agencies to conduct administrative forfeitures derives from the procedural provisions of the Customs laws (19 U.S.C. 1602-1618) where those provisions are incorporated by reference in the substantive forfeiture statutes enforced by the agencies.

(b) The regulations in this part will apply to all forfeiture actions commenced on or after October 12, 2012.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.2   Definitions.

As used in this part, the following terms shall have the meanings specified:

Administrative forfeiture means the process by which property may be forfeited by a seizing agency rather than through a judicial proceeding. Administrative forfeiture has the same meaning as nonjudicial forfeiture, as that term is used in 18 U.S.C. 983.

Appraised value means the estimated market value of property at the time and place of seizure if such or similar property were freely offered for sale by a willing seller to a willing buyer.

Appropriate official means, in the case of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Forfeiture Counsel, DEA. In the case of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), it means the Associate Chief Counsel, Office of Chief Counsel, ATF. In the case of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it means the Unit Chief, Legal Forfeiture Unit, Office of the General Counsel, FBI, except as used in §§8.9(a)(2), 8.9(b)(2), 8.10, and 8.15, where the term appropriate official means the office or official identified in the published notice or personal written notice in accordance with §8.9.

Civil forfeiture proceeding means a civil judicial forfeiture action as that term is used in 18 U.S.C. 983.

Contraband means—

(1) Any controlled substance, hazardous raw material, equipment or container, plants, or other property subject to summary forfeiture pursuant to sections 511(f) or (g) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 881(f) or (g)); or

(2) Any controlled substance imported into the United States, or exported out of the United States, in violation of law.

Domestic value means the same as the term appraised value as defined in this section.

Expense means all costs incurred to detain, inventory, safeguard, maintain, advertise, sell, or dispose of property seized, detained, or forfeited pursuant to any law.

File or filed has the following meanings:

(1) A claim or any other document submitted in an administrative forfeiture proceeding is not deemed filed until actually received by the appropriate official identified in the personal written notice and the published notice specified in §8.9. It is not considered filed if it is received by any other office or official, such as a court, U.S. Attorney, seizing agent, local ATF or DEA office, or FBI Headquarters. In addition, a claim in an administrative forfeiture proceeding is not considered filed if received only by an electronic or facsimile transmission.

(2) For purposes of computing the start of the 90-day period set forth in 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(3), an administrative forfeiture claim is filed on the date when the claim is received by the designated appropriate official, even if the claim is received from an incarcerated pro se prisoner.

Interested party means any person who reasonably appears to have an interest in the property based on the facts known to the seizing agency before a declaration of forfeiture is entered.

Mail includes regular or certified U.S. mail and mail and package transportation and delivery services provided by other private or commercial interstate carriers.

Nonjudicial forfeiture has the same meaning as administrative forfeiture as defined in this section.

Person means an individual, partnership, corporation, joint business enterprise, estate, or other legal entity capable of owning property.

Property subject to administrative forfeiture means any personal property of the kinds described in 19 U.S.C. 1607(a).

Property subject to forfeiture refers to all property that federal law authorizes to be forfeited to the United States of America in any administrative forfeiture proceeding, in any civil judicial forfeiture proceeding, or in any criminal forfeiture proceeding.

Seizing agency refers to ATF, DEA, or FBI.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.3   Seizing property subject to forfeiture.

(a) Authority of seizing agents. All special agents of any seizing agency may seize assets under any federal statute over which the agency has investigative or forfeiture jurisdiction.

(b) Turnover of assets seized by state and local agencies. (1) Property that is seized by a state or local law enforcement agency and transferred to a seizing agency for administrative or civil forfeiture may be adopted for administrative forfeiture without the issuance of any federal seizure warrant or other federal judicial process.

(2) Where a state or local law enforcement agency maintains custody of property pursuant to process issued by a state or local judicial authority, and notifies a seizing agency of the impending release of such property, the seizing agency may seek and obtain a federal seizure warrant in anticipation of a state or local judicial authority releasing the asset from state process for purposes of federal seizure, and may execute such seizure warrant when the state or local law enforcement agency releases the property as allowed or directed by its judicial authority.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.4   Inventory.

The seizing agent shall prepare an inventory of any seized property.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.5   Custody.

(a) All property seized for forfeiture by ATF, DEA, or FBI shall be delivered to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), or a custodian approved by the USMS, as soon as practicable after seizure, unless it is retained as evidence by the seizing agency.

(b) Seized U.S. currency (and, to the extent practicable, seized foreign currency and negotiable instruments) must be deposited promptly in the Seized Asset Deposit Fund pending forfeiture. Provisional exceptions to this requirement may be granted as follows:

(1) If the seized currency has a value less than $5,000 and a supervisory official within a U.S. Attorney's Office determines in writing that the currency is reasonably likely to serve a significant, independent, tangible evidentiary purpose, or that retention is necessary while the potential evidentiary significance of the currency is being determined by scientific testing or otherwise; or

(2) If the seized currency has a value greater than $5,000 and the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS), Criminal Division, determines in writing that the currency is reasonably likely to serve a significant, independent, tangible evidentiary purpose, or that retention is necessary while the potential evidentiary significance of the currency is being determined by scientific testing or otherwise.

(c) Seized currency has a significant independent, tangible evidentiary purpose as those terms are used in §8.5(b)(1) and (b)(2) if, for example, it bears fingerprint evidence, is packaged in an incriminating fashion, or contains a traceable amount of narcotic residue or some other substance of evidentiary significance. If only a portion of the seized currency has evidentiary value, only that portion should be retained; the balance should be deposited.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.6   Appraisal.

The seizing agency or its designee shall determine the domestic value of seized property as soon as practicable following seizure.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.7   Release before claim.

(a) After seizure for forfeiture and prior to the filing of any claim, ATF's Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Seized Property Branch, or designee, the appropriate DEA Special Agent in Charge, or designee, or the appropriate FBI Special Agent in Charge, or designee, whichever is applicable, is authorized to release property seized for forfeiture, provided:

(1) The property is not contraband, evidence of a violation of law, or any property, the possession of which by the claimant, petitioner, or the person from whom it was seized is prohibited by state or federal law, and does not have a design or other characteristic that particularly suits it for use in illegal activities; and

(2) The official designated in paragraph (a) of this section determines within 10 days of seizure that there is an innocent party with the right to immediate possession of the property or that the release would be in the best interest of justice or the Government.

(b) Further, at any time after seizure and before any claim is referred, such seized property may be released if the appropriate official of the seizing agency determines that there is an innocent party with the right to immediate possession of the property or that the release would be in the best interest of justice or the Government.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.8   Commencing the administrative forfeiture proceeding.

An administrative forfeiture proceeding begins when notice is first published in accordance with §8.9(a), or the first personal written notice is sent in accordance with §8.9(b), whichever occurs first.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.9   Notice of administrative forfeiture.

(a) Notice by publication. (1) After seizing property subject to administrative forfeiture, the appropriate official of the seizing agency shall select from the following options a means of publication reasonably calculated to notify potential claimants of the seizure and intent to forfeit and sell or otherwise dispose of the property:

(i) Publication once each week for at least three successive weeks in a newspaper generally circulated in the judicial district where the property was seized; or

(ii) Posting a notice on an official internet government forfeiture site for at least 30 consecutive days.

(2) The published notice shall:

(i) Describe the seized property;

(ii) State the date, statutory basis, and place of seizure;

(iii) State the deadline for filing a claim when personal written notice has not been received, at least 30 days after the date of final publication of the notice of seizure; and

(iv) State the identity of the appropriate official of the seizing agency and address where the claim must be filed.

(b) Personal written notice. (1) Manner of providing notice. After seizing property subject to administrative forfeiture, the seizing agency, in addition to publishing notice, shall send personal written notice of the seizure to each interested party in a manner reasonably calculated to reach such parties.

(2) Content of personal written notice. The personal written notice sent by the seizing agency shall:

(i) State the date when the personal written notice is sent;

(ii) State the deadline for filing a claim, at least 35 days after the personal written notice is sent;

(iii) State the date, statutory basis, and place of seizure;

(iv) State the identity of the appropriate official of the seizing agency and the address where the claim must be filed; and

(v) Describe the seized property.

(c) Timing of notice. (1) Date of personal notice. Personal written notice is sent on the date when the seizing agency causes it to be placed in the mail, delivered to a commercial carrier, or otherwise sent by means reasonably calculated to reach the interested party. The personal written notice required by §8.9(b) shall be sent as soon as practicable, and in no case more than 60 days after the date of seizure (or 90 days after the date of seizure by a state or local law enforcement agency if the property was turned over to a federal law enforcement agency for the purpose of forfeiture under federal law).

(2) Civil judicial forfeiture. If, before the time period for sending notice expires, the Government files a civil judicial forfeiture action against the seized property and provides notice of such action as required by law, personal notice of administrative forfeiture is not required under paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(3) Criminal indictment. If, before the time period for sending notice under paragraph (c)(1) of this section expires, no civil judicial forfeiture action is filed, but a criminal indictment or information is obtained containing an allegation that the property is subject to forfeiture, the seizing agency shall either:

(i) Send timely personal written notice and continue the administrative forfeiture proceeding; or

(ii) After consulting with the U.S. Attorney, terminate the administrative forfeiture proceeding and notify the custodian to return the property to the person having the right to immediate possession unless the U.S. Attorney takes the steps necessary to maintain custody of the property as provided in the applicable criminal forfeiture statute.

(4) Subsequent federal seizure. If property is seized by a state or local law enforcement agency, but personal written notice is not sent to the person from whom the property is seized within the time period for providing notice under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, then any administrative forfeiture proceeding against the property may commence if:

(i) The property is subsequently seized or restrained by the seizing agency pursuant to a federal seizure warrant or restraining order and the seizing agency sends notice as soon as practicable, and in no case more than 60 days after the date of the federal seizure; or

(ii) The owner of the property consents to forfeiture of the property.

(5) Tolling. (i) In states or localities where orders are obtained from a state court authorizing the turnover of seized assets to a federal seizing agency, the period from the date an application or motion is presented to the state court for the turnover order through the date when such order is issued by the court shall not be included in the time period for providing notice under paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(ii) If property is detained at an international border or port of entry for the purpose of examination, testing, inspection, obtaining documentation, or other investigation relating to the importation of the property into, or the exportation of the property from, the United States, such period of detention shall not be included in the period described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. In such cases, the 60-day period shall begin to run when the period of detention ends, if a seizing agency seizes the property for the purpose of forfeiture to the United States.

(6) Identity of interested party. If a seizing agency determines the identity or interest of an interested party after the seizure or adoption of the property, but before entering a declaration of forfeiture, the agency shall send written notice to such interested party under paragraph (c)(1) of this section not later than 60 days after determining the identity of the interested party or the interested party's interest.

(7) Extending deadline for notice. The appropriate official of the seizing agency may extend the period for sending personal written notice under the regulations in this part in a particular case for a period not to exceed 30 days (which period may not be further extended except by a court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(1)(C) and (D)), if the appropriate official determines, and states in writing, that there is reason to believe that notice may have an adverse result, including: Endangering the life or physical safety of an individual; flight from prosecution; destruction of or tampering with evidence; intimidation of potential witnesses; or otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.

(8) Certification. The appropriate official of the seizing agency shall provide the written certification required under 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(1)(C) when the Government requests it and the conditions described in section 983(a)(1)(D) are present.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.10   Claims.

(a) Filing. In order to contest the forfeiture of seized property in federal court, any person asserting an interest in seized property subject to an administrative forfeiture proceeding under the regulations in this part must file a claim with the appropriate official, after the commencement of the administrative forfeiture proceeding as defined in §8.8, and not later than the deadline set forth in a personal notice letter sent pursuant to §8.9(b). If personal written notice is sent but not received, then the intended recipient must file a claim with the appropriate official not later than 30 days after the date of the final publication of the notice of seizure.

(b) Contents of claim. A claim shall:

(1) Identify the specific property being claimed;

(2) Identify the claimant and state the claimant's interest in the property; and

(3) Be made under oath by the claimant, not counsel for the claimant, and recite that it is made under penalty of perjury, consistent with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1746. An acknowledgment, attestation, or certification by a notary public alone is insufficient.

(c) Availability of claim forms. The claim need not be made in any particular form. However, each seizing agency conducting forfeitures under the regulations in this part must make claim forms generally available on request. Such forms shall be written in easily understandable language. A request for a claim form does not extend the deadline for filing a claim. Any person may obtain a claim form by requesting one in writing from the appropriate official.

(d) Cost bond not required. Any person may file a claim under §8.10(a) without posting bond, except in forfeitures under statutes listed in 18 U.S.C. 983(i).

(e) Referral of claim. Upon receipt of a claim that meets the requirements of §§8.10(a) and (b), the seizing agency shall return the property or shall suspend the administrative forfeiture proceeding and promptly transmit the claim, together with a description of the property and a complete statement of the facts and circumstances surrounding the seizure, to the appropriate U.S. Attorney for commencement of judicial forfeiture proceedings. Upon making the determination that the seized property will be released, the agency shall promptly notify the person with a right to immediate possession of the property, informing that person to contact the property custodian within a specified period for release of the property, and further informing that person that failure to contact the property custodian within the specified period for release of the property will result in abandonment of the property pursuant to applicable regulations. The seizing agency shall notify the property custodian of the identity of the person to whom the property should be released. The property custodian shall have the right to require presentation of proper identification or to take other steps to verify the identity of the person who seeks the release of property, or both.

(f) Premature filing. If a claim is filed with the appropriate official after the seizure of property, but before the commencement of the administrative forfeiture proceeding as defined in §8.8, the claim shall be deemed filed on the 30th day after the commencement of the administrative forfeiture proceeding. If such claim meets the requirements of §8.10(b), the seizing agency shall suspend the administrative forfeiture proceedings and promptly transmit the claim, together with a description of the property and a complete statement of the facts and circumstances surrounding the seizure to the appropriate U.S. Attorney for commencement of judicial forfeiture proceedings.

(g) Defective claims. If the seizing agency determines that an otherwise timely claim does not meet the requirements of §8.10(b), the seizing agency may notify the claimant of this determination and allow the claimant a reasonable time to cure the defect(s) in the claim. If, within the time allowed by the seizing agency, the requirements of §8.10(b) are not met, the claim shall be void and the forfeiture proceedings shall proceed as if no claim had been submitted. If the claimant timely cures the deficiency, then the claim shall be deemed filed on the date when the appropriate official receives the cured claim.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.11   Interplay of administrative and criminal judicial forfeiture proceedings.

An administrative forfeiture proceeding pending against seized or restrained property does not bar the Government from alleging that the same property is forfeitable in a criminal case. Notwithstanding the fact that an allegation of forfeiture has been included in a criminal indictment or information, the property may be administratively forfeited in a parallel proceeding.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.12   Declaration of administrative forfeiture.

If the seizing agency commences a timely proceeding against property subject to administrative forfeiture, and no valid and timely claim is filed, the appropriate official of the seizing agency shall declare the property forfeited. The declaration of forfeiture shall have the same force and effect as a final decree and order of forfeiture in a federal judicial forfeiture proceeding.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.13   Return of property pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(3)(B).

(a) If, under 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(3), the United States is required to return seized property, the U.S. Attorney in charge of the matter shall immediately notify the appropriate seizing agency that the 90-day deadline was not met. Under this subsection, the United States is not required to return property for which it has an independent basis for continued custody, including but not limited to contraband or evidence of a violation of law.

(b) Upon becoming aware that the seized property must be released, the agency shall promptly notify the person with a right to immediate possession of the property, informing that person to contact the property custodian within a specified period for release of the property, and further informing that person that failure to contact the property custodian within the specified period for release of the property may result in initiation of abandonment proceedings against the property pursuant to 41 CFR part 128-48. The seizing agency shall notify the property custodian of the identity of the person to whom the property should be released.

(c) The property custodian shall have the right to require presentation of proper identification and to verify the identity of the person who seeks the release of property.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.14   Disposition of property before forfeiture.

(a) Whenever it appears to the seizing agency that any seized property is liable to perish or to waste, or to be greatly reduced in value during its detention for forfeiture, or that the expense of keeping the property is or will be disproportionate to its value, the appropriate official of the seizing agency may order destruction, sale, or other disposition of such property prior to forfeiture. In addition, the owner may obtain release of the property by posting a substitute monetary amount with the seizing agency to be held subject to forfeiture proceedings in place of the seized property to be released. Upon approval by the appropriate official of the seizing agency, the property will be released to the owner after the payment of an amount equal to the Government appraised value of the property if the property is not evidence of a violation of law, is not contraband, and has no design or other characteristics that particularly suit it for use in illegal activities. This payment must be in the form of a money order, an official bank check, or a cashier's check made payable to the United States Marshals Service. A bond in the form of a cashier's check or official bank check will be considered as paid once the check has been accepted for payment by the financial institution that issued the check. If a substitute amount is posted and the property is administratively forfeited, the seizing agency will forfeit the substitute amount in lieu of the property. The pre-forfeiture destruction, sale, or other disposition of seized property pursuant to this section shall not extinguish any person's rights to the value of the property under applicable law. The authority vested in the appropriate official under this subsection may not be delegated.

(b) The seizing agency shall commence forfeiture proceedings, regardless of the disposition of the property under §8.14(a). A person with an interest in the property that was destroyed or otherwise disposed of under §8.14(a) may file a claim to contest the forfeiture of the property or a petition for remission or mitigation of the forfeiture. No government agent or employee shall be liable for the destruction or other disposition of property made pursuant to §8.14(a). The destruction or other disposition of the property pursuant to this section does not impair in rem jurisdiction.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.15   Requests for hardship release of seized property.

(a) Under certain circumstances a claimant may be entitled to immediate release of seized property on the basis of hardship.

(b) Any person filing a request for hardship release must also file a claim to the seized property pursuant to §8.10 and as defined in 18 U.S.C. 983(a).

(c) The timely filing of a valid claim pursuant to §8.10 does not entitle claimant to possession of the seized property, but a claimant may request immediate release of the property while the forfeiture is pending, based on hardship.

(d) A claimant seeking hardship release of property under 18 U.S.C. 983(f) and the regulations in this part must file a written request with the appropriate official. The request must establish that:

(1) The claimant has a possessory interest in the property;

(2) The claimant has sufficient ties to the community to provide assurance that the property will be available at the time of trial;

(3) The continued possession by the Government pending the final disposition of forfeiture proceedings will cause substantial hardship to the claimant, such as preventing the functioning of a business, preventing an individual from working, or leaving an individual homeless;

(4) The claimant's likely hardship from the continued possession by the Government of the seized property outweighs the risk that the property will be destroyed, damaged, lost, concealed, or transferred if it is returned to the claimant during the pendency of the proceeding; and

(5) The seized property is not:

(i) Contraband;

(ii) Any property, the possession of which by the claimant, petitioner, or the person from whom it was seized is prohibited by state or federal law;

(iii) Currency, or other monetary instrument, or electronic funds unless such currency or other monetary instrument or electronic funds constitutes the assets of a legitimate business that has been seized;

(iv) Intended to be used as evidence of a violation of law;

(v) By reason of design or other characteristic, particularly suited for use in illegal activities; or

(vi) Likely to be used to commit additional criminal acts if returned to the claimant.

(e) A hardship release request pursuant to this section shall be deemed to have been made on the date when it is received by the appropriate official as defined in §8.2(c) or the date the claim was deemed filed under §8.10(f). If the request is ruled on and denied by the appropriate official or the property has not been released within the 15-day time period, the claimant may file a petition in federal district court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 983(f)(3). If a petition is filed in federal district court, the claimant must send a copy of the petition to the agency to which the hardship petition was originally submitted and to the U.S. Attorney in the judicial district in which the judicial petition was filed.

(f) If a civil forfeiture complaint is filed on the property and the claimant files a claim with the court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(4)(A) and Rule G(5) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, a hardship petition may be submitted to the individual identified in the public or personal notice of the civil judicial forfeiture action.

return arrow Back to Top

§8.16   Attorney fees and costs.

The United States is not liable for attorney fees or costs in any administrative forfeiture proceeding, including such proceedings in which a claim is filed, even if the matter is referred to the U.S. Attorney, and the U.S. Attorney declines to commence judicial forfeiture proceedings.

return arrow Back to Top

Need assistance?