A defendant in a Cobb Superior Court case lost two amounts of cash, one of which totaled $12,231.00, and some personal property to the police under Georgia’s Civil Forfeiture Statute, O.C.G.A. § 16-13-49 (2014). The money and property were discovered “in close proximity to methamphetamine and marijuana during a search of” the defendant’s car and hotel room.
The prosecution filed a civil in rem complaint, condemning the items that were seized, but the defendant responded with both an answer and amended answer claiming that the $12,231.00 was his. He also stated that the police did not find the cash and property near the drugs, that they violated his Fourth Amendment rights, that the cash was not tied to the selling or manufacturing of drugs, and that he was “facing drug charges in a related criminal matter and asserting his rights under the Fifth Amendment.” The prosecution then asked the trial court to strike the defendant’s answer and moved for default judgment, which the trial court did. The defendant appealed.
Georgia’s Court of Appeals reviewed the case and noted that the defendant’s answer failed to include information required by O.C.G.A. § 16-13-49 (o) such as his interest in the money, the transfer date, and the transferor’s identity. The Court agreed with the trial court’s ruling on striking the defendant’s answer and issuing a default judgment.