Code of the District of Columbia

§ 5–119.06. Property clerk — Return of property — General requirements; multiple claimants; immunity; property needed as evidence; notice to owner; disposition upon failure to claim.

(a) Upon satisfactory evidence of the ownership of property or money described in § 5-119.05 he shall deliver the same to the owner, his next of kin, or legal representative and to him or them only. If, in any case, it is proven impracticable for such owner, next of kin, or legal representative to appear, the Property Clerk may deliver such property or money to any person having a duly executed power of attorney from such owner, or his next of kin, or legal representative, upon the filing of such power of attorney in the office of said Clerk and the signing of a receipt for such property or money.

(a-1) Seizure or impoundment of property by the Metropolitan Police Department from an individual is prima facie evidence of that person’s ownership of the property. The prima facie evidence shall constitute a presumption of ownership by possession and in the absence of other evidence or claims of title, shall be satisfactory evidence of ownership.

(b) In the event 2 or more persons claim ownership of any such property or money, the Property Clerk may give notice by registered mail to all such claimants of whom he shall have knowledge of the time and place of a hearing to determine the person to whom the property or money shall be delivered. At the time and place so designated the Property Clerk shall hear and receive evidence of ownership of the property or money concerned, and shall determine the identity of the owner. After such hearing, the Property Clerk shall deliver the property or money to the person whom the Property Clerk determines is the owner, his next of kin, or legal representative, and to him or them only. If, in any case, it is proven impracticable for such owner, next of kin, or legal representative to appear, the Property Clerk may deliver such property or money to any person having a duly executed power of attorney from such owner, his next of kin, or legal representative, upon the filing of such power of attorney in the office of said Clerk and the signing of a receipt for such property or money.

(c) The Property Clerk shall not be liable in damages for any official action performed hereunder in good faith.

(d) Except as provided in §§ 5-119.14, 5-119.15, and 5-119.16 hereof, no property or money in the possession of the Property Clerk alleged to have been feloniously obtained or to be the proceeds of crime shall be delivered under this section if it is required to be held under the provisions of § 5-119.08 hereof; nor shall it be delivered within 1 year after the date of receipt of said property or money by the Property Clerk unless the United States Attorney in and for the District of Columbia shall certify that such property or money is not needed as evidence in the prosecution of a crime.

(e) Whenever the owner of property in the custody of the Property Clerk has been notified by the Property Clerk, by registered or certified mail, to take possession of such property within 30 days after the date of mailing of such notification, and such owner fails so to do within such period, such property shall be thereafter treated as other unclaimed, abandoned, or lost property and shall be disposed of as provided in § 5-119.10; provided, that if, in the opinion of the Property Clerk, such property has no salable value, and if within 30 days after the date of mailing such notification such property is not reclaimed by its owner and removed by him from the custody of the Property Clerk, such property shall be disposed of by destruction or otherwise, as the Council of the District of Columbia by regulation or order shall provide.


(R.S., D.C., § 413; May 9, 1941, 55 Stat. 185, ch. 99, § 1; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 101, ch. 159, § 306(a); Sept. 25, 1962, 76 Stat. 589, Pub. L. 87-691,§ 1; Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-194, § 2, 32 DCR 1020.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 4-157.

1973 Ed., § 4-156.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-119.16.

Cross References

Actions, limitations, see § 12-301.

Alcoholic beverages and vehicles, contraband, seizure and forfeiture, see § 25-911.

Cigarettes, forfeiture and seizure, see § 47-2409.

Civil damages, authorization for recovery, see § 23-554.

Controlled substances, forfeiture, see §§ 48-903.04, 48-905.02, and 48-1104.

Gambling premises and property, see § 22-1705.

Hunting and fishing equipment, seizure and sale, see § 22-4330.

Milk containers, seizure, see § 36-125.

Motor vehicle fuels, contraband, seizure and forfeiture, see § 47-2320.

Plants or plant products, diseased or infested, inspections and seizure, see § 8-304.

Weapons, taking of dangerous articles, see § 22-4517.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 402(102) of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to the District of Columbia Council, subject to the right of the Commissioner as provided in § 406 of the Plan. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.