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Asset Forfeitures & Seizures 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 have my property?
  3. How do I contact the Department of Safety about having my seized property returned?
  4. I received a Notice from the Department of Safety that my property has been seized.  What do I do now?
  5. 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?
  6. I filed an Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath and it was denied.  Now what?
  7. I filed a Petition for Hearing and paid the Cost Bond.  What will happen now?
  8. Do I need an attorney at the hearing?
  9. Can I settle the matter before the hearing?
  10. What if I can't appear at the hearing?
  11. I attended the hearing and the Administrative Law Judge ruled against me.  How can I appeal?
  12. How do I contact the Appeals Division of the Department of Safety?
  13. How do I contact the Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's office?
  14. The Appeals Division ruled against me and entered a Final Order.  Is there anything I can do?
  15. 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 Tennessee Department of Safety.  If it has been seized due to gambling or any other reason, you need to call your local law enforcement agency.

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

A: No, the Department 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 Headquarters of your area. 

Question 3:  How do I contact the Department of Safety about having my seized property returned?

A:  The Department has three offices that handle seizures, located in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville.  The table below tells you which 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
Department of Safety,
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,
Tennessee Department of Safety,
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
Department of Safety,
7175 Strawberry Plains Pike, Suite 102
Knoxville, TN 37914

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

Question 4: I received a Notice from the Department of Safety that my property has been seized. What do I do now?

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

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 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
  • 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 approved by the commissioner, 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 office handling your case(s).

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

Question 5:  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:  Yes.  You have thirty (30) days from the Date of Seizure to file the Petition for Hearing and either the Cost Bond or the Affidavit of Indigency and Pauper's Oath with the appropriate Department office.  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.

Question 6:  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 (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 office.

Question 7: I filed a Petition for Hearing and paid the Cost Bond.  What will happen now?

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

Question 8: 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 does not provide attorneys to represent Claimants.

Question 9: Can I settle the matter before the hearing?

A: Yes.  Settlements are encouraged.  You may settle with either the law enforcement agency that seized your vehicle or with the Department.  Please keep in mind that all settlements must be approved by the Department of Safety.  The settlement must be in writing on the Department's form and signed by all appropriate parties to be effective.

Question 10: What if I can't appear at the hearing?

A:  If you know you will be unable to attend the hearing, you should contact the appropriate Department office immediately to arrange to continue the case to a different date.  If you do not contact the Department and do not appear for the first time a case is set for a hearing, the case will be continued to another date and time.  However, if this is a second or subsequent hearing date, then a Default order may be entered against you, and your property will be forfeited to the law enforcement agency that seized it.

It is your responsibility to contact the Department to request a new hearing date if you cannot be at the hearing.

Question 11:  I attended the hearing and the Administrative Law Judge ruled against me.  How can I appeal?

A:  You can appeal in one of two ways.

  1. Petition for Reconsideration: Within ten (10) days after the entry of the Initial Order of the Administrative Law Judge, you can file a Petition for Reconsideration with the Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's office and the Department of Safety.  The Administrative Law Judge has twenty (20) days to make a ruling on the Petition for Reconsideration.  If no action is taken within those twenty (20) days then the Petition is deemed denied.

You do not need to file a Petition for Reconsideration in order to appeal to the Commissioner.

  1. Appeal to the Commissioner of Safety/Commissioner's Designee:  Within fifteen (15) days after the entry of the Initial Order of the Administrative Law Judge, you can file a Request for an Appeal with the Administrative Procedures Division of the Secretary of State's Office and the Department of Safety.  The Appeal will be based on the transcript of the hearing held before the Administrative Law Judge, any documentation submitted to the Department by the law enforcement agency, the Claimant, and any other parties which may have been involved with the case.

If you wish to submit a brief (legal paper stating why you disagree with the Initial Order of the Administrative Law Judge), the Appeals Division of the Department of Safety will let you know the date you will need to submit it by.

Question 12:  How do I contact the Appeals Division of the Department of Safety?

A: The Appeals Division can be contacted at:

Address:
Appeals Division,
Tennessee Department of Safety,
1150 Foster Avenue,
Nashville, TN 37243

Telephone number: (615) 251-5114

Question 13: 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 Tennnessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
Nashville, TN  37243-1102

Telephone number: (615) 741-7008

Question 14:  The Appeals Division ruled against me and entered a Final Order.  Is there anything I can do?

A:  Yes.  You may file a Petition for Judicial Review with the Chancery Court of Davidson County, in Nashville.  This Petition must be filed within sixty (60) days of the date of entry of the Final Order.  Copies of the Petition and the Summons (issued by the Chancery Court Clerk's Office) should be sent to the Department of Safety at the Nashville office and to the Tennessee Attorney General's Office.

For more information, including filing procedures and fees, contact the Chancery Court Clerk's office at 615-532-5270 or on the web at http://www.nashville.gov/chancery/

Question 15:  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.