Delaware General Assembly



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. That Chapter 176 of the Revised Code of Delaware, 1935, be and the same hereby is amended by striking out 6184. Sec. 55, 6185. Sec. 56, 6186. Sec. 57 and 6187. Sec. 58 of said Chapter, and by inserting in lieu thereof a new section, to be known as 6184. Sec. 55 as follows:

6184. Sec. 55. Seizure and Confiscation of Alcoholic Liquor and Other Property; Disposition Thereof; Proceedings in the Court of General Sessions in Certain Cases:--(a) Every officer and inspector of the Commission and all other peace officers of the State of Delaware, may, without a warrant, seize "property", as hereinafter defined, kept, transported, possessed or sold in contravention of this Chapter, when found in any "disorderly house"; and may also seize such "property" in like manner and for like violations when the said "property" is used in connection with any offense under this Chapter to the knowledge of the Commission or any of its officers, inspectors or to the knowledge of any other peace officer of the State of Delaware. Immediately upon such seizure, such property shall be deemed to be confiscated and the Commission shall be vested with a special property therein, subject to the provisions of this Section. The word "property" as heretofore and hereafter used in this Section shall include "Alcoholic Liquor", stills and other apparatus designed for the "manufacture" of "alcoholic liquor", receptacles and other paraphernalia used in connection with any violation of the provisions of this Chapter, and all "vehicles" used in connection with the unlawful transportation of "alcoholic liquor"; Provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to "vehicles" operated by common carriers over scheduled routes, or to such vehicles in which the sale of "alcoholic liquor" is licensed under Section 6159, Section 30, Revised Code of Delaware, 1935. Forthwith upon such seizure, all property so seized shall be delivered to and shall be retained and disposed of by the Commission under the provisions of this Section, subject however to any right or power of immediate destruction otherwise conferred by this Chapter. The word Commission as used in the immediately preceding sentence shall include any officer or inspector thereof with respect to delivery to the Commission of seized "property" as in this section defined.

(d) All property so seized and delivered into the possession of the Commission shall be retained by it for a period of at least two months from the date of seizure and may be returned by the Commission within such time to any person claiming ownership of the same, upon proof, satisfactory to the Commission that such property had not been used in connection with any violation of any of the provisions of this Chapter, or, if so used, that such use was without the knowledge, acquiescence or consent of the rightful owner.

(e) The Commission shall, from time to time, but not less frequently than semi-annually, file a report and petition in the Court of General Sessions in any County of the State which report and petition shall set forth (1) the date of the filing of the last preceding report, with term number thereof, (2) an itemized list of all property seized and delivered to the Commission under this Section, with the date of seizure of each item, (3) a statement of the circumstances of each such seizure with the names and addresses, so far as known, of any persons in possession of such property at the time of seizure thereof, and the names and addresses of any person known to the Commission to claim title thereto or a lien thereon, (4) the disposition made by the Commission of all such property returned to owners or claimants, (5) a list of requests of State Departments, agencies, institutions, hospitals or other institutions supported in whole or in part by State appropriations, for any "property" seized and herein described, (6) the disposition or pendency of any prosecutions in any court of any cases involving offenses under this Chapter and arising out of arrests made in connection with the seizure of any of such property, including a statement of all such property the continued retention whereof is necessary for the purpose of use as evidence in any such case, and (7) a list of all such seized property on hand and the estimated value thereof, so far as may be ascertained, with the names and addresses, so fax as known, of all persons claiming ownership of such property or any lien thereon. The report and petition shall pray an order of the said Court as to the disposal or retention of such property remaining on hand.

(d) Before filing such report the Commission shall examine or cause to be examined records of liens on motor vehicles at the Titling Department in Dover and/or records of conditional sales contracts recorded in the offices of the Recorders of the Counties to ascertain what liens, if any, had been entered against any motor vehicles seized under the provisions of this Act and all available information as to ownership of such vehicles and liens, if any, upon the same shall be incorporated in such report. Upon the filing of such report and petition the said Court shall direct the issuance of a rule returnable on a day certain at the next succeeding term of said court, directed to all known claimants, owners and lienors and such rule shall be issued to and served by the Sheriff of the County in which such claimant, owner or lienor shall reside or, if the Court shall so direct, may be mailed by the Clerk of the Peace to such claimants, owners or lienors at the addresses disclosed by said report and petition. In addition, the said Court shall direct publication of a notice, in a form approved by the Court, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties where said property or any part thereof was located at the time of seizure, such publication to be made at least one time weekly during two successive weeks preceding the week during which the rule is returnable.

(e) Upon the return of said rule the Court may order (1) the destruction of any of such property except legally distilled spirits with seals and containers so preserved with labels and seals unbroken as to permit or be eligible for resale, (2) the delivery of any thereof to any state department, agency or institution or to any hospital or other institution supported in whole or in part by state appropriations, for which such institution shall have use in the conduct of its authorized activities, which order and subsequent delivery shall vest title in and to all such property in the agency, department or institution receiving same, (3) the sale of any thereof by the commission at public sale, except that such order may direct the Commission in its discretion to offer privately for sale in regular trade channels to the Delaware importers of "alcoholic liquor" or "alcoholic liquors" as such terms are defined in Section 3 of The Liquor Control Act of this State bottled for the trade and with labels and seals unbroken at the prevailing price paid by such importers for like brands and quality, and upon any other terms as the Court may decide should be. imposed, (4) that upon an order for sale of any motor vehicle so seized as aforesaid, the order shall also direct that after advertisement and public sale, the proceeds of such sale shall first be applied to the costs of the proceedings including storage, then to bona fide liens placed upon the said vehicles prior to seizure, and then to the Commission to be disposed of as otherwise in this Act provided.

(f) The Commission shall make return to the court of its proceedings under any such order, and, Where a sale of property has been so authorized and consummated, the proceeds, to the extent of an aggregate of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) during any one fiscal year shall be retained by the Commission as a special fund for enforcement of The Liquor Control Act, and any sum so received in excess of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) during any one fiscal year, shall be paid into the general fund of the State; provided, however, that if at the end of any fiscal year there should be remaining in said fund any sum in excess of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), such excess shall be paid into the General Fund of the State. All taxable costs in any such proceeding in the Court of General Sessions, including the costs of publication and sale, shall be paid by The Delaware Liquor Commission from any of its available funds, but first out of the proceeds of sale to the extent such proceeds may be adequate for the purpose.

(g) The Court of General Sessions may adopt rules to implement this Section. All proceedings under this Section shall be construed to be in the nature of proceedings in rem for the forfeiture and disposition of property so seized and not otherwise disposed of under this Section. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as depriving any owner or person holding a lien upon or conditional title to any property so seized from pursuing any remedy otherwise available in any court for the recovery of said property, but no such other remedy shall be available and no other proceeding for the recovery of said property shall be brought after a petition, involving said property, shall have been filed in the Court of General Sessions under the authority of this section, and in such case all remedies of persons claiming title to or liens upon such seized property shall be asserted and adjudicated in the cause presented by such petition in the Court of General Sessions; provided however, that in any action or proceeding brought by an alleged owner, lienor or claimant of the seized property, the State of Delaware, acting on behalf of the Commission, shall be permitted to intervene as a party defendant and justify the seizure under the authority of this section and in such case as well as in any case arising under this section, the court may by order, judgment or decree require the payment to the Commission of all proper costs and expenses of seizure, holding, storage or other acts or proceedings under the authority of this section. It shall be no objection to any such report and petition that the same relates to and deals with the property of more than one person or property seized on more than one occasion, nor shall the Court of General Sessions refuse to act upon any such petition because any criminal proceeding arising out of the seizure of such property remains undisposed of, has resulted in an acquittal or has been retired or nolle grossed by the Attorney General.

Section 2. The several provisions of this Act shall be applicable to all property, as above defined, which shall be in the custody or possession of The Delaware Liquor Commission, or any officer thereof, or of any peace officer of the State or of any County or Municipality thereof, on the date this Act shall become effective.

Section 3. If any section or provision of this Act shall be held invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall affect only the section or provision so declared invalid or unconstitutional and shall not affect any other section or provision of this Act.

Approved April 9, 1945.