Code of the District of Columbia

§ 5–119.09. Property transmitted; deceased and incompetent persons; storage; fees; sale.

(a) All property or money taken on suspicion of having been feloniously obtained, or of being the proceeds of crime, and for which there is no other claimant than the person from whom such property was taken, and all lost property coming into possession of any member of the police force, and all property and money taken from pawnbrokers as the proceeds of crime or from persons alleged to be insane, intoxicated, or otherwise incapable of taking care of themselves, shall be transmitted as soon as practicable to the Property Clerk to be fully registered and advertised for the benefit of all parties interested, and for the information of the public as to the amount and disposition of the property so taken into custody by the police.

(b)(1) Whenever any money or property of a deceased person of a value of less than $1,000 coming into the custody of the Property Clerk shall remain in his custody for a period of 6 months or more without being claimed and repossessed by the next of kin or the legal representative of such deceased person, such money or property shall be disposed of as lost or abandoned property as provided in § 5-119.10; provided, that prior to the disposition of such property of a deceased person it shall be the duty of the Property Clerk to ascertain whether there is pending in the court having probate jurisdiction any petition seeking the appointment of a legal representative of such deceased person, and, if such a petition is pending in such court, the Property Clerk shall not dispose of such property until final disposition by the court of such petition; provided further, that in any case where the Property Clerk acquires actual knowledge that a petition for the appointment of a legal representative of such deceased person has been filed or is pending in a court outside of the District of Columbia, the Property Clerk shall not dispose of such property until final disposition by the court of such petition.

(2) Whenever any money or property of a deceased person shall be of a value of $1,000 or more and shall have remained in the custody of the Property Clerk for at least 6 months, all records pertaining to the same shall be referred by the Property Clerk to the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia for the purpose of instituting appropriate proceedings to effect the appointment of an administrator of the estate of such decedent; provided, that upon expiration of the time for final settlement of such estate under law then in effect, the residue thereof in the absence of any claim by the heirs at law or next of kin of the decedent, as provided by law, shall be deposited into the registry of the court having probate jurisdiction, and upon the expiration of a period of 3 years, no demand having been made upon such funds by lawful heirs or other rightful claimants, the amount so deposited in such registry shall be deposited in the Treasury to the credit of the District of Columbia; provided further, that if the administrator does not take possession of such property within 3 months from the date of his appointment, the Property Clerk may, after giving such administrator 30 days notice by registered or certified mail, sell such property at public auction, and, after deducting the expenses of such sale, and expense incident to the maintenance of custody of such property, shall pay the remaining proceeds of such sale over to such administrator.

(c) Whenever the Property Clerk has custody of any property belonging to any person who has been adjudged of unsound mind and a committee has been appointed for such person but fails to take possession of the property of such person in the custody of the Property Clerk within 6 months from the date of such committee’s appointment, the Property Clerk shall give such committee 60 days notice by registered or certified mail of his intention to sell such property at public auction or otherwise dispose of such property in accordance with law. If, upon the expiration of such 60 days notice, the committee has not taken custody of such property: (1) the Property Clerk is authorized to sell such property at public auction, and, after deducting the expenses of the sale, expenses incident to the maintenance and custody of such property, and any amounts due the District of Columbia for care and maintenance of the adjudicated patient, shall pay the remaining proceeds of the sale over to such committee; or (2) if in the opinion of the Property Clerk any such property has no salable value, he is authorized to dispose of such property by destruction or otherwise as the Council of the District of Columbia shall, by regulation, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia shall, by order, determine.

(d)(1) The said Mayor is authorized, in his discretion, to store in any commercial warehouse or garage in the District of Columbia, or in or on any facility under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, any property coming into the custody of the Property Clerk pursuant to this chapter, including vehicles impounded by any officer or member of the Metropolitan Police force.

(2) The Mayor is authorized to fix, by regulation, the fees to be charged to reimburse the District of Columbia for the cost of services rendered by the Metropolitan Police force in taking custody of and protecting such property and for the cost of storing such property in any commercial warehouse or garage, and whenever any such property is stored in or on any facility under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, the Mayor shall fix the storage fee in an amount reasonably estimated by him to be the value of the storage service rendered for each day during which such property is so stored, and to collect all such fees due and owing for such property before releasing such property to its owner or his legal representative; provided, that the Mayor is authorized, in his discretion, to waive the charging and collecting of such fees for property taken into custody as evidence, the proceeds of crime, or from persons supposed to be insane; provided further, that the Property Clerk is authorized to sell at public auction pursuant to subsection (b) of § 5-119.10 any property stored in a commercial garage or warehouse, when the storage charges for such property exceed 75% of its value as determined by the Property Clerk, regardless of the amount of time for which such property is required by other sections of this chapter to be held by the Property Clerk.

(3) Fees collected by reason of this section shall be deposited in the Treasury to the credit of the District of Columbia.


(R.S., D.C., § 416; May 29, 1896, 29 Stat. 191, ch. 270; Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1208, ch. 854, § 116; Sept. 1, 1916, 39 Stat. 718, ch. 433, § 12; Mar. 3, 1936, 49 Stat. 1158, ch. 121, § 1; Sept. 25, 1962, 76 Stat. 589, Pub. L. 87-691, § 2; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 576, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 158(a)(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 4-160.

1973 Ed., § 4-159.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-119.10.

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(103) 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.