Law enforcement agencies store and maintain property seized as evidence, turned over as found property, or held for safekeeping. Related responsibilities include submission of items to the state crime lab for testing, coordinating with the Buchanan County Attorney's Office when items are needed as evidence in court, and disposal of items that are unclaimed and no longer needed, as permitted by state code.
Law enforcement officers will provide a property receipt to anyone that property is taken from, regardless of the reason taken. The receipt includes the name of the officer taking or receiving the property, the date and time taken or received, and an inventory of the property.
The Iowa Code requires that notice be given to individuals from whom property is taken. The property receipt acts as that notice. If you wish to file a claim seeking immediate return of the seized property, you must file that claim within thirty (30) days of the notice with the Buchanan County Clerk of Court. The claimant (you) must deliver copies of the application to the Buchanan County Attorney's Office and the law enforcement agency that seized the property.
Law enforcement officers may seize property to be used in prosecution of a criminal case. When the property is no longer needed as evidence, it can be returned to the person with the right of possession unless possession of the property is illegal or there is a forfeiture action pending.
To have property returned once it is no longer needed as evidence (not immediate return, as outlined above), a person must file a written claim with the law enforcement agency within thirty (30) days of the notice. CLICK HERE for a Property Claim Form. After filing a claim, the claimant must notify the law enforcement agency in writing of any change in contact information. Return of firearms and/or ammunition will require a seized property hearing before the court.
Property Taken For Safekeeping
Property which constitutes an imminent danger to a person's health, safety, or welfare may be seized. The law enforcement agency taking the property is required to release the property when it no longer constitutes such a danger.
If you feel property should be returned and the agency in possession of it refuses to do so, you may file a claim for the return of seized property with the Buchanan County Clerk of Court within thirty (30) days of notice from the law enforcement agency. If a claim is filed, the Clerk's Office will arrange for the court to conduct a hearing to determine if the property should be returned or whether the law enforcement agency can retain possession. Return of firearms and/or ammunition will require a seized property hearing before the court.
Property Subject To Forfeiture
If you have received a forfeiture notice, read it carefully and consider seeking advice from an attorney. Failure to file a claim for return of forfeited property within statutory time limits will result in loss of any right you may have to the property.
A claimant must take possession of property within thirty (30) days after the final disposition of a seized property hearing or notification by the law enforcement agency that the claimant may take possession; failure to do so will deem the property abandoned and it will be disposed of in accordance with state code.
Found property turned in to a law enforcement agency is maintained in accordance with Iowa Code. The law enforcement agency will attempt to contact the owner, if known. If the owner of the property is unknown, the property may be disposed of after a ninety (90) day holding period. If you find property that you would like to turn over to the police department, please contact dispatch at 319-334-2567 at any time.
The property claim form can be used in accordance with state code to file a written claim of ownership interest or possessory right to property being held by the law enforcement agency. The form documents the claimant's interest in taking possession of the property once it is eligible for release by the law enforcement agency. The claim form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of notice from the law enforcement agency. In addition to a claim form, a person wishing to take immediate possession of property must file for a seized property hearing with the Buchanan County Clerk of Court.
A person wishing to claim a firearm and/or ammunition must file a property claim form, obtain a background check through the DCI, and file for a seized property hearing with the Buchanan County Clerk of Court (see below).CLICK HERE to download a Property Claim Form. Completed forms may be dropped off in person or mailed to the law enforcement agency’s address on the form.
Filing for a Seized Property Hearing
A person wishing to file for a seized property must do so through the Buchanan County Clerk of Court. The filing is required by code to be done electronically on the Iowa Judicial Branch's Electronic Filing (eFiling) website. The Clerk's Office and the law enforcement agency are prohibited from instructing you about what content to include in your filing and from providing legal advice. To file for a seized property hearing, follow the steps listed below.
CLICK HERE to download detailed instructions.