2010 Florida Statutes
Larceny; return of property to owner; procedure.
Larceny; return of property to owner; procedure.—
In every instance in which any money or motor vehicle shall have been taken from its rightful owner under circumstances constituting larceny of such money or motor vehicle and such money or motor vehicle is being held by state, county or municipal officials as evidence, the rightful owner of such money or motor vehicle may obtain the return and possession thereof in the following manner:
The rightful owner shall file a petition in the court having criminal jurisdiction describing the money or motor vehicle, the time and manner in which the same was taken from the rightful owner, the value thereof if the same is money or motor vehicle, and that the petitioner is the true and lawful owner thereof. Such petition shall be under oath, sworn to by the petitioner or, if the petitioner if a corporation, by a duly authorized officer or agent thereof, or by such person other than the petitioner who shall have actual knowledge of the facts alleged in such petition.
Notice of the filing of such petition and a copy thereof shall be served upon any person charged with the larceny of the money or motor vehicle involved in the same manner and for the same fee as the service of a summons.
If no person has been charged by indictment or information with larceny of the money or motor vehicle involved, or if a person has been so charged and cannot be found within the jurisdiction of the court out of which capias has issued and that fact has been noted on the return of such capias, then the petitioner shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation within the county in which the alleged larceny occurred once a week for 2 consecutive weeks, two publications being sufficient, notice of the filing of such petition. Such notice shall describe the money or motor vehicle involved and the time and particular place of its taking.
Copies of the mentioned petition shall be furnished the officer having custody of the money or motor vehicle involved and also the prosecuting officer of the court having criminal jurisdiction and such officers shall be notified of any hearings and proceedings had upon such petition.
Within 5 days after receipt of service of the notice hereinabove provided or within 10 days after the last publication of the mentioned notice, any person other than the petitioner claiming title or right of possession to the money or motor vehicle involved shall file his or her objections to the granting of such petition. Such objections shall be under oath of the person making them and shall set forth facts showing that the petitioner is not the rightful owner or not entitled to possession. If the person interposing objections to the petition desires that the question of ownership or right to possession be resolved by a jury, he or she shall make and file a demand for a jury trial at the time of filing his or her objections. If the objector fails to demand a jury trial at such time he or she shall be deemed to have waived such right.
If objections are filed, as herein provided, the court having criminal jurisdiction may order the pleadings transferred to the court having civil jurisdiction of the cause where the same shall be adjudicated upon the pleadings, or he or she may defer hearing the matter until the criminal case has been adjudicated.
If no objections are filed within the time herein provided, the court having criminal jurisdiction shall hear the matter and may, if satisfied that the petitioner is the rightful owner of the money or motor vehicle involved, order such money or motor vehicle returned to the petitioner. The court may, in its discretion, require the petitioner to post a bond in such amount as the court shall deem proper, conditioned that the petitioner will return the motor vehicle or the value of the money to the court within such time as shall be fixed by the court in the event it should be subsequently determined in judicial proceedings that the petitioner is not the rightful owner of such money or motor vehicle.
When money or motor vehicle is returned to the rightful owner, as hereinabove provided, the court shall direct the clerk to make a detailed inventory description of such money or motor vehicle. The clerk in compliance with such direction shall make such inventory and description, including photographs of the motor vehicle involved where practicable and certify the same as being a true and correct inventory and description. The certified inventory and description shall then be filed by the clerk among the records of his or her office.
In any trial involving the larceny of money or motor vehicle which has been returned to the rightful owner, as hereinabove provided, and it shall be necessary therein to adduce testimony concerning such money or motor vehicle, secondary evidence, including the certified inventory and description thereof shall be admissible in the same manner and to the same effect as would the admission of the said money or motor vehicle, had the same not been returned.
The fact that any person charged with the larceny of money or motor vehicle has failed to object to the return of such money or motor vehicle to the alleged rightful owner thereof, or the fact that such money or motor vehicle has been returned to the alleged rightful owner thereof under the provisions of this law, shall not be offered, received or considered as evidence either for or against the defendant in such criminal action.
ss. 1, 2, ch. 29677, 1955; s. 65, ch. 74-383; s. 1239, ch. 97-102.
Former s. 811.201.