Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 3. Procedure in Regard to Property Seized

Petition For Destruction, Disposal, Or Use Of Evidence

46-5-307. Petition for destruction, disposal, or use of evidence. (1) For a case filed in district court, the prosecutor may file a petition with the court alleging that there exist certain items held as evidence either by the law enforcement agency or the court and that the items no longer have any evidentiary value. The petition must include:

(a) the name and title of the petitioner;

(b) the items of evidence sought to be destroyed, disposed of, or used, including a specific description of each that may be attached to the petition by separate inventory;

(c) when the items were seized;

(d) whether the items constitute contraband, which for the purposes of 46-5-306 through 46-5-309 means any property that is unlawful to produce or possess;

(e) whether the items relate to a filed case and, if so, the court and cause number of the case and its procedural status;

(f) whether, in those instances in which the items are not contraband, an effort has been made to return the items to the apparent owner and the results of the effort;

(g) an allegation to the effect that any criminal prosecutions involving the items of evidence have been completed and no appeals are pending or that no criminal charges have been filed or are presently contemplated; and

(h) the petitioner's intentions relative to disposition of the items.

(2) If the petition required under subsection (1) requests the destruction or use of contraband, it must describe how destruction is to be accomplished or how the contraband has training or law enforcement value and its contemplated use by a law enforcement agency.

(3) The petitioner shall provide a victim of the offense with a copy of the petition required under subsection (1) at the victim's last-known address and shall advise the court whether the victim wishes to be heard on the petition. It is the duty of the victim to provide the law enforcement agency, court, or prosecuting attorney's office with the victim's current contact information.

(4) (a) For a case filed in a court of limited jurisdiction, the owner of property seized in connection with a criminal charge shall contact the prosecuting attorney's office within 6 months of the conclusion of the case, including appeal, to claim the property.

(b) An owner who fails to contact the prosecuting attorney's office within 6 months after the conclusion of the case surrenders the property to the seizing or holding agency and forfeits any right to the property.

(c) If an owner claiming property demonstrates proof of ownership and the prosecuting attorney determines the property is no longer needed for the prosecution of the case, the property must be returned to the claiming owner.

History: En. Sec. 2, Ch. 348, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 186, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 295, L. 2017.