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Name: People v. $12,601.33 in U.S. Currency
Case #: B229202
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/10/2012

When seeking return of seized funds, defendant is entitled to amount taken plus interest actually earned, not interest at the legal rate. At the same time police seized drugs from appellant’s hotel room, they impounded $10,153.38 in U.S. currency. Appellant was convicted of drug offenses and sent to prison. When the prosecution obtained summary judgment for forfeiture over two years after the criminal trial, appellant appealed because the forfeiture of the seized funds was not litigated in conjunction with the criminal case. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11488.4, subd. (i).) In the first appeal (People v. $10,153.38 in U. S. Currency (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1520), the court reversed and remanded the matter for hearing to resolve the issue of the disposition of the funds. The prosecution thereafter sought to return the amount seized plus interest actually earned, but appellant sought interest at the rate of 10% and a jury trial to appraise the value of rare coins included among the seized funds. Ruling that the only issue before it was return of the funds, the trial court awarded him the seized funds plus interest actually earned. Affirmed. Defendant failed to give notice prior to deposit of the funds into an account that the currency included rare coins. He was therefore not denied due process regarding a hearing on the value of said coins. Further, the prosecution was not required to notify him prior to depositing the funds into an account because Health and Safety Code section 11469, subdivision (h) requires the prosecution to preserve the funds by depositing them into an account; it does not address notice. Appellant was not entitled to interest at the legal rate (Cal. Const., art. XV, § 1) because section 11469, subdivision (i) directs seizing agencies to protect and preserve the value of funds. Inherent in the concept of “preserving” the funds is that it be deposited into an interest bearing account; this is incompatible with a subsequent award of interest at the legal rate.