Frequently Asked Questions

  1. My vehicle/money/other property has been seized by my local law enforcement agency. Who do I call?
  2. Does the Department of Safety and Homeland Security have my property?
  3. Do I have the right to appear at a forfeiture warrant hearing?
  4. Can I appeal the issuance of a forfeiture warrant?
  5. How do I contact the Department of Safety and Homeland Security about having my seized property returned?
  6. I received a Notice of Seizure from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that my property has been seized. What do I do now?
  7. My spouse's/child's/significant other's property was seized and I believe I have an interest in the property. Can I file a claim?
  8. I filed an Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath and it was denied. Now what?
  9. I filed a Petition for Hearing and paid the Cost Bond. What will happen now?
  10. Do I need an attorney at the hearing?
  11. Can I settle the matter before the hearing?
  12. What if I can't appear at the hearing?
  13. What if I did not file a petition for a hearing within the required time?
  14. I attended the hearing and the Administrative Law Judge ruled against me. Can I appeal? How do I appeal?
  15. How do I contact the Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's office?
  16. If my vehicle was seized, do I need to continue paying on my car loan?

Question 1: My vehicle/money/other property has been seized by my local law enforcement agency. Who do I call?

A: Look at the Notice of Seizure you should have been given. If the vehicle/money/other property has been seized due to narcotic drugs, driving under the influence, or driving on a license revoked due to driving under the influence, then you need to call the Legal Division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. If it has been seized due to gambling or any other reason, you need to call your local law enforcement agency.

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Question 2: Does the Department of Safety and Homeland Security have my property?

A: No, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security does not physically store property seized by local law enforcement agencies. If you have questions about the location of your property, you will need to contact the local law enforcement agency that seized it.

If your property was seized by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, you will need to call the District THP Headquarters of your area.

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Question 3: Do I have the right to appear at a forfeiture warrant hearing?

A: Yes. If no arrest was made, then the person in possession at the time the property was seized has the right to appear at the forfeiture warrant hearing and offer testimony to the Judge, explaining why no probable cause exists. You should have been given a Notice of Forfeiture Warrant Hearing with the date, time and location listed for the hearing. If you do not have this information, contact the seizing agency.

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Question 4: Can I appeal the issuance of a forfeiture warrant?

A: A forfeiture warrant can only be appealed if issued by a Magistrate Judge or Judicial Commissioner. A person in possession, a secured party, or the owner of the property seized may appeal the forfeiture warrant within ten (10) days of issuance for review by the General Sessions Court in the county in which the seizure occurred. On appeal, the General Sessions Court shall conduct a hearing and review the issuance of the forfeiture warrant within ten (10) days of the appeal being filed.

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Question 5: How do I contact the Department of Safety and Homeland Security about having my seized property returned?

A: The Department of Safety and Homeland Security has three legal offices that handle seizures, located in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville. The table below tells you which legal office to contact depending on what county your property was seized in.
 

County Where Property was Seized
Office to Contact
Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette,
Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry,
Lake, Lauderdale, McNairy, Madison, Obion, Shelby, Tipton,
Weakley
Memphis Office: (901) 372-0622
Legal Division - West Tennessee
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
6174 Macon Road
Memphis, TN 38134
Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Cumberland, Davidson,
DeKalb, Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys,
Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury,
Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Robertson,
Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Wayne, White,
Williamson, Wilson
Nashville Office: (615) 251-5296
Legal Division - Middle Tennessee
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243
Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Carter,
Claiborne, Cocke, Coffee, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene,
Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson,
Johnson, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Marion, Meigs, Monroe,
Morgan, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Sullivan,
Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington
Knoxville Office: (865) 594-6519
Legal Division - East Tennessee
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
7175 Strawberry Plains Pike, Suite 102
Knoxville, TN 37914

 

Please keep in mind that the law enforcement agency that seized the property has two (2) weeks to send the paperwork to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The Department may not have any information on your case until after that time.

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Question 6: I received a Notice of Seizure from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that my property has been seized. What do I do now?

A: You have thirty (30) days from the date you received the Notice of Seizure (signed the Certified Receipt Green Card) to file a claim for the property with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Your claim should be filed with the Department legal office that handles the county the property was seized in.

Unclaimed Certified Mail that is returned to the Department does count as Notice.

In order to file a claim, you will need to file a Petition for Hearing (included with the Notice of Seizure or available here and file a Cost Bond of $350 (or more, depending on the number of cases) or submit an Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath if you cannot afford the Cost Bond.

The Cost Bond can be paid by:

  • submitting a cashier's check or money order made payable to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security;
  • a check submitted by your attorney (if you have one) for the amount;
  • submitting a surety from your attorney (if you have one) for the amount;
  • submitting a bond from a licensed bonding company; or
  • submitting a corporate surety bond.

Please note that the $350 cost bond is for one filed claim only. If you are filing on multiple cases, you will need to submit a Cost Bond for each case. Additionally, if your property has been seized for drug related matters and for driving on a revoked license, you will need to pay a $700 Cost Bond. To determine the required amount, contact the Department of Safety and Homeland Security legal office handling your case(s).

A claim (including the Cost Bond) must be received at the Department legal office in order to be timely filed. Do not submit the claim to the law enforcement agency that seized your property.

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Question 7: My spouse's/child's/significant other's property was seized and I believe I have an interest in the property. Can I file a claim?

A: You may be able to file a claim. Please contact the Department of Safety and Homeland Security legal office in your area for status of the case. Please note that if you are not a listed owner of the property, you may be required to prove your claim to the property through paperwork or other means. For additional information, see Question 6.

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Question 8: I filed an Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath and it was denied. Now what?

A: If your Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath has been denied, you have ten (10) days from the date of notification of the denial (signing the return receipt card) to either pay the Cost Bond required or appeal the denial by submitting a Request for Hearing in writing to the appropriate Department of Safety and Homeland Security legal office.

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Question 9: I filed a Petition for Hearing and paid the Cost Bond. What will happen now?

A: The Department of Safety and Homeland Security will notify you of the date, time, and location of the hearing on your Petition.

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Question 10: Do I need an attorney at the hearing?

A: You are not required to be represented by an attorney. If you wish to be represented by an attorney, that is your right. You will need to hire your own attorney. The Department of Safety and Homeland Security does not provide attorneys to represent Claimants.

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Question 11: Can I settle the matter before the hearing?

A: Yes. Settlements are encouraged. You may settle with either a representative of the law enforcement agency that seized your property (not the seizing Officer) or with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Please keep in mind that all settlements must be approved by the Department. The settlement must be in writing on the Department's form available here signed by all appropriate parties. Please note that property disposition does not occur until an Administrative Law Judge issues an Order of Compromise and Settlement.

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Question 12: What if I can't appear at the hearing?

A: It is your responsibility to contact the Department of Safety and Homeland Security or the Administrative Procedures Division of the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office (APD) to request a new hearing date if you cannot be at the hearing. If you know you will be unable to attend the hearing, you should contact the appropriate Department legal office, or APD, immediately to arrange to continue the case to a different date. If you do not contact the Department or APD and do not appear for the hearing, then a Default Order may be entered against you and your property may be forfeited to the law enforcement agency that seized it.

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Question 13: What if I did not file a petition for a hearing within the required time?

A: If no claim is filed within the required time, the property will be administratively forfeited. The aggrieved party has the opportunity to appeal this administrative forfeiture directly to the Davidson County Chancery or Circuit Court. Proceedings for review, in this instance, are instituted by filing a petition for review in the Davidson County Chancery Court or Circuit Court. Such petition shall be filed within sixty (60) days after the entry of the final order.

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Question 14: I attended the hearing and the Administrative Law Judge ruled against me. Can I appeal? How do I appeal?

A: Yes, you can appeal the Administrative Law Judge’s Order. Proceedings for review are instituted by filing a petition for review in the Davidson County Chancery or Circuit Court. Such petition shall be filed within sixty (60) days after the entry of the final order.

Copies of the Petition and the Summons (issued by the Court Clerk's Office) should be sent to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security's Nashville legal office and to the Tennessee Attorney General's Office.

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Question 15: How do I contact the Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's office?

A: The Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's office can be contacted at:

Address:
Administrative Procedures Division
8th Floor, William Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243-1102

Telephone number: (615) 741-7008

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Question 16: If my vehicle was seized, do I need to continue paying on my car loan?

A: You will need to contact the holder of the loan to discuss this matter with them.

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