Section 595-A:6

    595-A:6 Seizure, Custody and Disposition of Articles; Exceptions. – If an officer in the execution of a search warrant, or by some other authorized method, finds property or articles he is empowered to take, he shall seize and safely keep them under the direction of the court or justice so long as necessary to permit them to be produced or used as evidence in any trial. Upon application by a prosecutor, defendant, or civil claimants, the court, prior to trial or upon an appeal after trial, shall, upon notice to a defendant and hearing, and except for good cause shown, order returned to the rightful owners any stolen, embezzled or fraudulently obtained property, or any other property of evidential value, not constituting contraband. This section shall apply regardless of how possession of the property was obtained by the state. Photographs or other identification or analysis made of the returned property shall be admissible at trial as secondary evidence, in lieu of the originals, for all relevant purposes, including ownership. In the case of unknown, unapprehended defendants, or defendants wilfully absent from the jurisdiction, the court shall have discretion to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interest of such unknown or absent defendants. The judicial findings on such matters as ownership, identification, chain of possession or value made at such an evidentiary hearing for the restoration of property to the rightful owners shall thereafter be admissible at trial, to be considered with other evidence on the same issues, if any, as may be admitted before the finder of fact. All other property seized in execution of a search warrant or otherwise coming into the hands of the police shall be returned to the owner of the property, or shall be disposed of as the court or justice orders, which may include forfeiture and either sale or destruction as the public interest requires, in the discretion of the court or justice, and in accordance with due process of law. Any property, the forfeiture and disposition of which is specified in any general or special law, shall be disposed of in accordance therewith.

Source. 1969, 317:1. 1977, 320:1. 1981, 553:9. 1988, 88:3, eff. Jan. 1, 1989.