§ 63-11-51. Vehicle forfeiture procedure
63-11-51. Vehicle forfeiture procedure
(1) Except as otherwise provided in Section 63-11-49, when a vehicle is seized under Section 63-11-30(2)(c) or (d), proceedings under this section shall be instituted promptly upon final conviction.
(2) A petition for forfeiture shall be filed promptly in the name of the State of Mississippi, the county or the municipality and may be filed in the county in which the seizure is made, the county in which the criminal prosecution is brought or the county in which the owner of the seized vehicle is found. Forfeiture proceedings may be brought in the circuit court or the county court if a county court exists in the county and the value of the seized vehicle is within the jurisdictional limits of the county court as set forth in Section 9-9-21. A copy of such petition shall be served upon the following persons by service of process in the same manner as in civil cases:
(a) The owner of the vehicle, if address is known;
(b) Any secured party who has registered his lien or filed a financing statement as provided by law, if the identity of such secured party can be ascertained by the law enforcement agency by making a good faith effort to ascertain the identity of such secured party as described in subsections (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) of this section;
(c) Any other bona fide lienholder or secured party or other person holding an interest in the vehicle in the nature of a security interest of whom the law enforcement agency has actual knowledge;
(d) Any person in possession of the vehicle subject to forfeiture at the time that it was seized.
(3) If the vehicle is susceptible of titling under the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Title Law and if there is any reasonable cause to believe that the vehicle has been titled, the law enforcement agency shall inquire of the State Tax Commission as to what the records of the State Tax Commission show regarding who is the record owner of the vehicle and who, if anyone, holds any lien or security interest which affects the vehicle.
(4) If the vehicle is not titled in the State of Mississippi, then the law enforcement agency shall attempt to ascertain the name and address of the person in whose name the vehicle is licensed, and if the vehicle is licensed in a state which has in effect a certificate of title law, the agency shall inquire of the appropriate agency of that state as to what the records of the agency show regarding who is the record owner of the vehicle and who, if anyone, holds any lien, security interest or other instrument in the nature of a security device which affects the vehicle.
(5) In the event the answer to an inquiry states that the record owner of the vehicle is any person other than the person who was in possession of it when it was seized, or states that any person holds any lien, encumbrance, security interest, other interest in the nature of a security interest, which affects the vehicle, the law enforcement agency shall cause any record owner and also any lienholder, secured party, other person who holds an interest in the vehicle in the nature of a security interest, to be named in the petition of forfeiture and to be served with process in the same manner as in civil cases.
(6) If the owner of the vehicle cannot be found and served with a copy of the petition of forfeiture, the law enforcement agency shall file with the clerk of the court in which the proceeding is pending an affidavit to such effect, whereupon the clerk of the court shall publish notice of the hearing addressed to “the Unknown Owner of . . .,” filling in the blank space with a reasonably detailed description of the vehicle subject to forfeiture. Service by publication shall contain the other requisites prescribed in Section 11-33-41, and shall be served as provided in Section 11-33-37 for publication of notice for attachments at law.