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Name: People v. $10,153.38
Case #: B205875
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/29/2009

Proceeds of violations of controlled substance laws are subject to forfeiture but a forfeiture action must be tried by the same finder of fact that tried the criminal case. Appellant was arrested and charged with possession for sale of cocaine base and marijuana after police seized a large quantity of cocaine base, marijuana, and $10,153.38 from appellant’s hotel room. While pending trial on the criminal charges, appellant was served with notice of his right to oppose forfeiture proceedings and, in response, returned the completed claim. A forfeiture petition was then filed. Several months later in 2003, appellant was convicted of the criminal charges. In 2006, the prosecution served appellant with requests for admissions asking appellant to admit he had abandoned his claim to the funds. Rather than complying with the specific request, appellant filed a petition for return of property. In turn, the prosecution sought and was granted a motion for summary judgment by the trial court. The appellate court reversed, finding that the forfeiture statutes ((Health & Saf. Code, secs. 11470 through 11489), which set forth appellant’s right to trial on the forfeiture issue, require that the action must be tried in conjunction with the criminal case by the same finder of fact. Here, the record did not show that appellant waived his right to jury trial or that the prosecution brought the matter to trial as required by applicable statutory provisions. Accordingly, the entry of summary judgment was reversed and the matter remanded to resolve disposition of the funds in question.