South-Western Legal Studies in Business

State Must Follow Notice Procedure Properly in Property Forfeiture Actions
Description Texas appeals court held that the state lost its ability to force the forfeiture of property seized during a marijuana bust because it did not file notice of intent to seize the property within the time period set by state law.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Forfeiture of Real Property; Lis Pendens
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Police found marijuana growing in a cornfield owned by Puckett. After destroying the field, the police seized the property owned by Puckett and sought forfeiture of his real property under Texas drug laws. Puckett moved to dismiss the forfeiture action because the state failed to file a lis pendens on real property in the three days required once the forfeiture action was initiated. The trial court denied Puckett’s motion and ordered the forfeiture. Puckett appealed.
Decision

Reversed. The failure of the state to file a lis pendens in the time required by the state Code of Criminal Procedure is fatal to the forfeiture action. “A lis pendens protects more than the party with a claim against real property, it also protects innocent purchasers and those who take a security interest in the property by giving them notice of the claim.” Forfeiture statutes are strictly construed and failure to comply with procedure defeats a state’s claim for forfeiture.

Citation Silver Chevrolet Pickup v. State, 99 S.W.3d 874 (Ct. App., Tex., 2003)

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