2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 12 - CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
CHAPTER 5 - WATER RESOURCES
ARTICLE 3 - WELLS AND DRINKING WATER
PART 3 - WATER WELL STANDARDS
§ 12-5-137 - Procedure for confiscation and sale of contraband equipment; defenses
. Procedure for confiscation and sale of contraband equipment; defenses
(a) All drilling rigs or commercial vehicles used to drill any well and other equipment used to drill any well by a person who is not a licensed water well contractor or driller or who is not acting under the direction of a professional engineer or professional geologist as required by this part are declared to be contraband subject to forfeiture and confiscation and seizure by any peace officer, who shall forthwith deliver such rigs and equipment to the district attorney whose circuit includes the county in which a seizure is made or to his duly authorized agent within ten days of the seizure.
(b) The district attorney whose circuit includes the county in which the seizure is made, within 30 days after the seizure of any illegal drilling equipment, shall institute proceedings by petition in the superior court of any county where the seizure was made against the property so seized and against any and all persons known to have an interest in or right affected by the seizure or sale of such property. A copy of such petition shall be served upon the owner or lessee of such property, if known, and upon the person or persons having custody or possession of such property at the time of the confiscation or seizure. If the owner or lessee, or person or persons having custody or possession of such property at the time of seizure is unknown, notice of such proceedings shall be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in the newspaper in which sheriff's advertisements of the county are published. Such publication shall be deemed notice to any and all persons having an interest in or right affected by such proceedings and any sale of the property resulting therefrom. If no defense or intervention shall be filed within 30 days from the filing of the petition, judgment by default shall be entered by the court; otherwise the case shall proceed as in other civil cases. Should the drilling equipment be found to be illegal within the sense of this part, the same shall be decreed to be contraband and ordered sold under such terms as the judge in his order may direct. The proceeds arising from such sale shall be applied:
(1) To the payment of proper costs and expenses, including expenses incurred in the seizure;
(2) To the payment of the cost of the court and its officers;
(3) To the payment of any cost incurred in the storage, advertisement, maintenance, or care of such property; and
(4) If any money remains, to the general funds of the county.
(c) Where the owner or lessee of any property seized for purpose of condemnation shall abscond or conceal himself so that the actual notice of the condemnation proceedings cannot be served upon him, he shall be served by publication as is provided in this Code section in the case of an unknown owner or lessee.
(d) All proceedings against any alleged illegal drilling equipment for the purpose of condemnation shall be proceedings in rem against the property, and the property shall be described only in general terms. It is the intent and purpose of the procedure provided by this Code section to provide a civil remedy for the condemnation and sale of contraband property.
(e) Any party at interest may appear, by answer under oath, and make his defense. The owner, lessee, security interest holder, or lienholder shall be permitted to defend by showing that the property seized, if illegally used by another, was used without the knowledge, connivance, or consent, expressed or implied, of the owner, lessee, security interest holder, or lienholder. The holder of any bona fide lien on or security interest in the property shall be protected to the full extent of his lien or security interest, respectively; provided, however, that nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed to obligate the district attorney whose circuit includes the county in which a seizure is made beyond the proceeds of any such sale less the actual costs incurred by him.
Graham Syfert - Jacksonville Lawyer