OH2: Motion for return of firearm seized from def subjected to mental exam should have been granted

Defendant’s motion for return of his firearm should have been granted. It was taken from him when he was held for a mental examination by court order. He was entitled to the processes of the forfeiture statute for return of the firearm. State v. Leet, 2021-Ohio-1334, 2021 Ohio App. LEXIS 1304 (2d Dist. Apr. 16, 2021):

[*P21] The State retained the firearm seized from Leet without complying with R.C. Chapter 2981. The prosecuting attorney did not provide Leet with notice that the property was subject to forfeiture, nor did the State initiate civil forfeiture of the property. Additionally, the matter of forfeiture was not mentioned in Leet’s plea form or his judgment entry of conviction until over a month after he was convicted, and then only in a short handwritten notation.

[*P22] In the absence of a final forfeiture adjudication, the State’s interest in the property seized from Leet remains “provisional.” R.C. 2981.03(A)(1); see also State v. North, 2012-Ohio-5200, 980 N.E.2d 566, ¶ 12 (1st Dist.). Additionally, the forfeiture statutes contemplate a post-conviction adjudication by providing for, among other things, an extension of the time for filing a civil-forfeiture complaint by agreement of the parties or upon a showing of good cause. State v. Harris, 132 Ohio St. 3d 318, 2012-Ohio-1908, 972 N.E.2d 509, ¶ 33; R.C. 2981.03(F). Therefore, upon Leet’s motion for return of his firearm, the trial court should have provided him with the procedural protections afforded by the civil-forfeiture statute. See North at ¶ 12; State v. Clark, 173 Ohio App. 3d 719, 2007-Ohio-6235, 880 N.E.2d 150, ¶ 16 (3d Dist.). Where the statutory requirements for forfeiture have not been met, we have no choice but to reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for further proceedings. See Bolton, 2017-Ohio-7263, 97 N.E.3d 37, at ¶ 17.

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