44-12-212. Disposition of property following hearing. (1) If the provisions of 44-12-207 are not established or the property owner is an innocent owner as provided in 44-12-211, the court shall order that the property be released to the owner of record as of the date of the seizure.
(2) If the provisions of 44-12-207 are established and the property owner is not an innocent owner as provided in 44-12-211, the property must be disposed of as follows:
(a) If proper proof of a claim is presented at the hearing by the holder of a security interest, the court shall order that the property be released to the holder of the security interest if the amount due to the holder is equal to or in excess of the value of the property as of the date of seizure because the purpose of this chapter is to forfeit only the right, title, or interest of the owner. If the amount due the holder of the security interest is less than the value of the property, the property, if it is sold, must be sold at public auction by the law enforcement agency that seized the property in the same manner provided by law for the sale of property under execution or the law enforcement agency may return the property to the holder of the security interest without proceeding with an auction. The property may not be sold to an officer or employee of the law enforcement agency that seized the property or to a person related to an officer or employee by blood or marriage.
(b) If a claimant does not exist and the confiscating agency wishes to retain the property for its official use, it may do so. If the property is not to be retained, it must be sold as provided in subsection (2)(a).
(c) If a claimant who has presented proper proof of a claim exists and the confiscating agency wishes to retain the property for its official use, it may do so if it compensates the claimant in the amount of the security interest outstanding at the time of the seizure.
(3) In making a disposition of property under this chapter, the court may take any action to protect the rights of innocent persons.
History: En. Sec. 9, Ch. 529, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 180, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 476, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 489, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 1634, Ch. 56, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 421, L. 2015; Sec. 44-12-205, MCA 2013; redes. 44-12-212 by Code Commissioner, 2015.