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01/13/95 WILLIE JAMES GRANT v. STATE ALABAMA SONYA

January 13, 1995

WILLIE JAMES GRANT
v.
STATE OF ALABAMA; SONYA CARMICHAEL V. STATE OF ALABAMA



Appeals from Jefferson Circuit Court. (CV-94-977 and CV-94-975). Stuart Leach, TRIAL JUDGE.

Rehearing Overruled February 17, 1995, . Released For Publication February 17, 1996.

Holmes, Retired Appellate Judge. All the Judges concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Holmes

HOLMES, Retired Appellate Judge

This is a consolidated appeal from forfeiture proceedings filed pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 20-2-93. The trial court ordered a 1984 Nissan 300ZX automobile and $2,619 in U.S. currency to be forfeited to the Mountain Brook Police Department.

Our review of the record reveals the following: At approximately 2:40 a.m. on January 20, 1994, a police officer from the City of Mountain Brook stopped Willie James Grant for a routine traffic violation. The police officer requested that Grant step out of the vehicle, and Grant complied with that request. The police officer testified that he obtained permission from Grant to search the vehicle, a 1984 Nissan 300ZX. A search of the vehicle revealed a loaded pistol and a plastic bag that contained some ammunition, which did not fit the pistol previously found, and a small amount (.02 grams) of a green leafy substance, which the police officer believed to be marijuana.

Grant was arrested for possession of a pistol without a permit and for possession of marijuana. At the police station, when the police officers began removing personal property from Grant, they discovered in Grant's wallet a Sam's card, belonging to Grant, with a white residue on it. The officers believed this white residue to be cocaine. A field test or quick test was conducted, and this white residue tested positive for narcotics.

The police officers found $219 in small bills in Grant's right rear pants pocket. The police officers also found additional money in two plastic baggies in the inside pocket of the jacket that Grant was wearing at the time of his arrest.

On February 9, 1994, the State filed two separate petitions. One of the petitions was directed to Grant and alleged that the $2,619 in U.S. currency found on his person "was furnished or was intended to have been furnished in exchange for a controlled substance, cocaine, in violation of the law of the State of Alabama, or was used or was intended to have been used to facilitate a violation of a law of the State of Alabama concerning controlled substances ...."

The second petition was directed to Henry Payne, who is the stepfather of Sonya Carmichael, Grant's "girlfriend." Payne had purchased the 1984 Nissan 300ZX for Carmichael's use. This petition alleged that the 1984 Nissan 300ZX, which Grant was driving at the time of his arrest, "was being used, or was intended for use, to transport, or in any manner facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession, or concealment of cocaine, a controlled substance, in violation of and contrary to Section 20-2-93(a)(5), Code of Alabama, 1975."

After a hearing, the trial court issued an order, wherein it determined that both the 1984 Nissan 300ZX and the $2,619 in U.S. currency "[were] used, or intended for use in a transaction which would be a violation of the Alabama Controlled Substances Act." Both the vehicle and the currency were declared to be contraband and were condemned and forfeited to the State of Alabama.

Grant and Carmichael appeal. The appeals were consolidated.

It is well settled that in order for property to be seized, condemned, and forfeited pursuant to ยง 20-2-93, the State must establish a prima facie case by reasonably satisfying evidence. Agee v. State ex rel. Galanos, 627 So. 2d 960 (Ala. Civ. App. 1993); State v. Smith, 578 So. 2d 1374 (Ala. Civ. App. 1991). Because the statute is penal in nature, it must be strictly ...


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