(a) Matter that is obtained or distributed in violation of subdivision (j) of Section 647 and that is in the possession of any city, county, city and county, or state official or agency is subject to forfeiture pursuant to this section.
(b) An action to forfeit matter described in subdivision (a) may be brought by the Attorney General, the district attorney, county counsel, or the city attorney. Proceedings shall be initiated by a petition of forfeiture filed in the superior court of the county in which the matter is located.
(c) The prosecuting agency shall make service of process of a notice regarding that petition upon every individual who may have a property interest in the alleged proceeds. The notice shall state that any interested party may file a verified claim with the superior court stating the amount of his or her claimed interest and an affirmation or denial of the prosecuting agency’s allegation. If the notice cannot be given by registered mail or personal delivery, the notice shall be published for at least three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property is located. All notices shall set forth the time within which a claim of interest in the property seized is required to be filed.
(d) (1) Any person claiming an interest in the property or proceeds may, at any time within 30 days from the date of the first publication of the notice of seizure, or within 30 days after receipt of actual notice, file with the superior court of the county in which the action is pending a verified claim stating his or her interest in the property or proceeds. A verified copy of the claim shall be given by the claimant to the Attorney General or district attorney, county counsel, or city attorney, as appropriate.
(2) If, at the end of the time set forth in paragraph (1), an interested person has not filed a claim, the court, upon motion, shall declare that the person has defaulted upon his or her alleged interest, and it shall be subject to forfeiture upon proof of compliance with subdivision (c).
(e) The burden is on the petitioner to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that matter is subject to forfeiture pursuant to this section.
(f) It is not necessary to seek or obtain a criminal conviction prior to the entry of an order for the destruction of matter pursuant to this section. Any matter described in subdivision (a) that is in the possession of any city, county, city and county, or state official or agency, including found property, or property obtained as the result of a case in which no trial was had or that has been disposed of by way of dismissal or otherwise than by way of conviction may be ordered destroyed.
(g) A court order for destruction of matter described in subdivision (a) may be carried out by a police or sheriff’s department or by the Department of Justice. The court order shall specify the agency responsible for the destruction.
(h) As used in this section, “matter” means any picture, photograph, image, motion picture, video tape, film, filmstrip, negative, slide, photocopy, or other pictorial representation, recording, or electrical reproduction. “Matter” also means any data storage media that contains the image at issue, but does not include the computer, camera, telecommunication or electronic device, unless the matter consists solely of electronic information stored on a device that cannot be altered or erased.
(i) Prior for granting an order for destruction of matter pursuant to this section, the court may require the petitioner to demonstrate that the petition covers no more property than necessary to remove possession of the offending matter.
(j) It is a defense in any forfeiture proceeding that the matter seized was lawfully possessed in aid of legitimate scientific or educational purposes.
(Added by Stats. 2015, Ch. 291, Sec. 2. (SB 676) Effective January 1, 2016.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018