Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
Subtitle B: Regulations Relating to Commerce and Foreign Trade (Continued)
CHAPTER IX: NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
SUBCHAPTER A: GENERAL REGULATIONS
PART 904: CIVIL PROCEDURES
Subpart F: Seizure and Forfeiture Procedures
904.504 - Administrative forfeiture proceedings.
(a) When authorized. This section applies to property that is determined under ? 904.503 to have a value of $500,000 or less, and that is subject to administrative forfeiture under the applicable statute. This section does not apply to conveyances seized in connection with criminal proceedings.
(b) Procedure. (1) NOAA will publish a Notice of Proposed Forfeiture once a week for at least three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Federal judicial district in which the property was seized. However, if the value of the seized property does not exceed $1,000, the Notice may be published by posting for at least three successive weeks in a conspicuous place accessible to the public at the National Marine Fisheries Service Enforcement Office, U.S. District Court, or the U.S. Customs House nearest the place of seizure, with the date of posting indicated on the Notice. In addition, a reasonable effort will be made to serve the Notice, as provided in ? 904.3, on each person whose identity, address and interest in the property are known or easily ascertainable.
(2) The Notice of Proposed Forfeiture will:
(i) Describe the seized property, including any applicable registration or serial numbers;
(ii) State the time, place and reason for the seizure, including the provisions of law allegedly violated; and
(iii) Describe the rights of an interested person to file a claim to the property (including the right to petition to remit or mitigate the forfeiture).
(3)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, any person claiming the seized property may file a claim with NOAA, at the address indicated in the Notice, within 30 days of the date the final Notice was published or posted. The claim must state the claimant's interest in the property.
(ii) Filing a claim does not entitle the claimant to possession of the property. However, it does stop administrative forfeiture proceedings.
(iii) If the claim is timely filed in accordance with this section, NOAA will refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice to institute forfeiture proceedings in the appropriate U.S. District Court.
(4) If a claim is not filed within 30 days of the date the final Notice is published or posted in accordance with this section, NOAA will declare the property forfeited. The Declaration of Forfeiture will be in writing and will be served as provided in ? 904.3, on each person whose identity and address and prior interest in the seized property are known or easily ascertainable. The Declaration will describe the property and state the time, place, and reason for its seizure, including the provisions of law violated. The Declaration will identify the Notice of Proposed Forfeiture, describing the dates and manner of publication of the Notice and any efforts made to serve the Notice as provided in ? 904.3. The Declaration will state that in response to the Notice a proper claim was not timely received by the proper office from any claimant, and that therefore all potential claimants are deemed to admit the truth of the allegations of the Notice. The Declaration shall conclude with an order of condemnation and forfeiture of the property to the United States for disposition according to law. All forfeited property will be subject to disposition as authorized by law and regulations of NOAA.
(5) If the appraised value of the property is more than $500,000, or a timely and satisfactory claim for property appraised at $500,000 or less is submitted to NOAA, the matter will be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice to institute in rem proceedings in the appropriate U.S. District Court.