STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED NINETY-THREE DOLLARS ($2,293) IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY A-4929-11T3The State sought forfeiture of monies seized during the execution of a search warrant; defendant filed an answer denying that the monies were subject to forfeiture. The defendant was subsequently indicted, and the State obtained a stay of the civil forfeiture proceedings pending resolution of the criminal case. Defendant was found guilty by a jury and sentenced. While still incarcerated, he moved in the Special Civil Part for the return of the monies seized. He requested oral argument on the motion.
The notice of the motion hearing was sent to a post office box at Northern State Prison, the address provided by defendant in his motion papers. However, before the hearing date, the notice was returned to court marked "return to sender, insufficient address, unable to forward." Nevertheless, the matter proceeded on the hearing date with only the prosecutor present.
Without testimony, the judge entered an order denying defendant's motion and ostensibly granting the State a judgment of forfeiture.
We reversed, finding defendant was deprived due process by the Court's failure to provide notice of the hearing. In providing guidance for future proceedings, we commented on the prove of predicate facts necessary before the State may invoke the presumption contained in N.J.S.A. 2C:64-3(j).