Impound Law & Legal Definition


Impound is subject to different meanings. Under one usage, it means to collect funds, in addition to installment payments, from a person who owes a debt secured by property, which funds are then placed in a separate account to pay property taxes and insurance when due. This is security for the lender or seller in case of the borrower's failure to keep up the insurance or a mounting tax bill which may create a lien on the property.

It may also mean to seize records, funds or property, such as an automobile or building, by government action pending the outcome of a criminal prosecution. The records may be essential evidence, or the money or property may be forfeit to the state as in illegal drug cases. State law usually provides for notice of the impound to be sent to the owner. Requirements for notice vary by jurisdiction, so local laws should be consulted. Impounded property may later be sold at governments auctions.

Finally, impound may refer to the placing or locking in of stray animals in a pound.

The following is an example of a Missouri law dealing with impoundment of abandoned vehicles:

" 304.156.

1. Within five working days of receipt of the crime inquiry and inspection report under section 304.155 or the abandoned property report under section 304.157, the director of revenue shall search the records of the department of revenue, or initiate an inquiry with another state, if the evidence presented indicated the abandoned property was registered or titled in another state, to determine the name and address of the owner and lienholder, if any. After ascertaining the name and address of the owner and lienholder, if any, the department shall, within fifteen working days, notify the towing company. Any towing company which comes into possession of abandoned property pursuant to section 304.155 or 304.157 and who claims a lien for recovering, towing or storing abandoned property shall give notice to the title owner and to all persons claiming a lien thereon, as disclosed by the records of the department of revenue or of a corresponding agency in any other state. The towing company shall notify the owner and any lienholder within ten business days of the date of mailing indicated on the notice sent by the department of revenue, by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall contain the following:

  1. The name, address and telephone number of the storage facility;
  2. The date, reason and place from which the abandoned property was removed;
  3. A statement that the amount of the accrued towing, storage and administrative costs are the responsibility of the owner, and that storage and/or administrative costs will continue to accrue as a legal liability of the owner until the abandoned property is redeemed;
  4. A statement that the storage firm claims a possessory lien for all such charges;
  5. A statement that the owner or holder of a valid security interest of record may retake possession of the abandoned property at any time during business hours by proving ownership or rights to a secured interest and paying all towing and storage charges;
  6. A statement that, should the owner consider that the towing or removal was improper or not legally justified, the owner has a right to request a hearing as provided in this section to contest the propriety of such towing or removal;
  7. A statement that if the abandoned property remains unclaimed for thirty days from the date of mailing the notice, title to the abandoned property will be transferred to the person or firm in possession of the abandoned property free of all prior liens; and
  8. A statement that any charges in excess of the value of the abandoned property at the time of such transfer shall remain a liability of the owner.

2. A towing company may only assess reasonable storage charges for abandoned property towed without the consent of the owner. Reasonable storage charges shall not exceed the charges for vehicles which have been towed with the consent of the owner on a negotiated basis. Storage charges may be assessed only for the time in which the towing company complies with the procedural requirements of sections 304.155 to 304.158.

3. In the event that the records of the department of revenue fail to disclose the name of the owner or any lienholder of record, the department shall notify the towing company which shall attempt to locate documents or other evidence of ownership on or within the abandoned property itself. The towing company must certify that a physical search of the abandoned property disclosed that no ownership documents were found and a good faith effort has been made. For purposes of this section, "good faith effort" means that the following checks have been performed by the company to establish the prior state of registration and title:

  1. Check of the abandoned property for any type of license plates, license plate record, temporary permit, inspection sticker, decal or other evidence which may indicate a state of possible registration and title;
  2. Check the law enforcement report for a license plate number or registration number if the abandoned property was towed at the request of a law enforcement agency;
  3. Check the tow ticket/report of the tow truck operator to see if a license plate was on the abandoned property at the beginning of the tow, if a private tow; and
  4. If there is no address of the owner on the impound report, check the law enforcement report to see if an out-of-state address is indicated on the driver license information.

4. If no ownership information is discovered, the director of revenue shall be notified in writing and title obtained in accordance with subsection 7 of this section.

5.

  1. The owner of the abandoned property removed pursuant to the provisions of section 304.155 or 304.157 or any person claiming a lien, other than the towing company, within ten days after the receipt of notification from the towing company pursuant to subsection 1 of this section may file a petition in the associate circuit court in the county where the abandoned property is stored to determine if the abandoned property was wrongfully taken or withheld from the owner. The petition shall name the towing company among the defendants. The petition may also name the agency ordering the tow or the owner, lessee or agent of the real property from which the abandoned property was removed. The director of revenue shall not be a party to such petition but a copy of the petition shall be served on the director of revenue who shall not issue title to such abandoned property pursuant to this section until the petition is finally decided.
  2. Upon filing of a petition in the associate circuit court, the owner or lienholder may have the abandoned property released upon posting with the court a cash or surety bond or other adequate security equal to the amount of the charges for towing and storage to ensure the payment of such charges in the event he does not prevail. Upon the posting of the bond and the payment of the applicable fees, the court shall issue an order notifying the towing company of the posting of the bond and directing the towing company to release the abandoned property. At the time of such release, after reasonable inspection, the owner or lienholder shall give a receipt to the towing company reciting any claims for loss or damage to the abandoned property or the contents thereof.
  3. Upon determining the respective rights of the parties, the final order of the court shall provide for immediate payment in full of recovery, towing, and storage fees by the abandoned property owner or lienholder or the owner, lessee, or agent thereof of the real property from which the abandoned property was removed.

6. A towing and storage lien shall be enforced as provided in subsection 7 of this section.

7. Thirty days after the notification form has been mailed to the abandoned property owner and holder of a security agreement and the property is unredeemed and no satisfactory arrangement has been made with the lienholder in possession for continued storage, and the owner or holder of a security agreement has not requested a hearing as provided in subsection 5 of this section, the lienholder in possession may apply to the director of revenue for a certificate. The application for title shall be accompanied by:

  1. An affidavit from the lienholder in possession that he has been in possession of the abandoned property for at least thirty days and the owner of the abandoned property or holder of a security agreement has not made arrangements for payment of towing and storage charges;
  2. An affidavit that the lienholder in possession has not been notified of any application for hearing as provided in this section;
  3. A copy of the abandoned property report or crime inquiry and inspection report;
  4. A copy of the thirty-day notice given by certified mail to any owner and person holding a valid security interest and a copy of the certified mail receipt indicating that the owner and lienholder of record was sent a notice as required in this section; and
  5. A copy of the envelope or mailing container showing the address and postal markings indicating that the notice was "not forwardable" or "address unknown".

8. If notice to the owner and holder of a security agreement has been returned marked "not forwardable" or "addressee unknown", the lienholder in possession shall comply with subsection 3 of this section.

9. Any municipality or county may adopt an ordinance regulating the removal and sale of abandoned property provided such ordinance is consistent with sections 304.155 to 304.158, and, for a home rule city with more than four hundred thousand inhabitants and located in more than one county, includes the following provisions:

  1. That the department of revenue records must be searched to determine the registered owner or lienholder of the abandoned property;
  2. That if a registered owner or lienholder is disclosed in the records, that the owner and lienholder or owner or lienholder are mailed a notice by the governmental agency, by U.S. mail, advising of the towing and impoundment;
  3. That if the vehicle is older than six years and more than fifty percent damaged by collision, fire, or decay, and has a fair market value of less than two hundred dollars as determined by using any nationally recognized appraisal book or method, it must be held no less than ten days after the notice is sent pursuant to this subsection before being sold to a licensed salvage or scrap business; provided however where a title is required under this chapter an affidavit from a certified appraiser attesting that the value of the vehicle is less than two hundred dollars;
  4. That all other vehicles must be held no less than thirty days after the notice is sent pursuant to this subsection before they may be sold.

10. Any municipality or county which has physical possession of the abandoned property and which sells abandoned property in accordance with a local ordinance may transfer ownership by means of a bill of sale signed by the municipal or county clerk or deputy and sealed with the official municipal or county seal. Such bill of sale shall contain the make and model of the abandoned property, the complete abandoned property identification number and the odometer reading of the abandoned property if available and shall be lawful proof of ownership for any dealer registered under the provisions of section 301.218, RSMo, or section 301.560, RSMo, or for any other person. Any dealer or other person purchasing such property from a municipality or county shall apply within thirty days of purchase for a certificate. Anyone convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of an infraction.

11. Any persons who have towed abandoned property prior to August 28, 1996, may, until January 1, 2000, apply to the department of revenue for a certificate. The application shall be accompanied by:

  1. A notarized affidavit explaining the circumstances by which the abandoned property came into their possession, including the name of the owner or possessor of real property from which the abandoned property was removed;
  2. The date of the removal;
  3. The current location of the abandoned property;
  4. An inspection of the abandoned property as prescribed by the director; and
  5. A copy of the thirty-day notice given by certified mail to any owner and person holding a valid security interest of record and a copy of the certified mail receipt.

12. If the director is satisfied with the genuineness of the application and supporting documents submitted pursuant to this section, the director shall issue one of the following:

  1. An original certificate of title if the vehicle owner has obtained a vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, which indicates that the vehicle was not previously in a salvaged condition or rebuilt;
  2. An original certificate of title designated as prior salvage if the vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, indicates the vehicle was previously in a salvage condition or rebuilt;
  3. A salvage certificate of title designated with the words "salvage/abandoned property" or junking certificate based on the condition of the abandoned property as stated in the abandoned property report or crime inquiry and inspection report;
  4. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 301.573, RSMo, to the contrary, if satisfied with the genuineness of the application and supporting documents, the director shall issue an original title to abandoned property previously issued a salvage title as provided in this section, if the vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, does not indicate the abandoned property was previously in a salvage condition or rebuilt.

13. If abandoned property is insured and the insurer of property regards the property as a total loss and the insurer satisfies a claim by the owner for the property, then the insurer or lienholder shall claim and remove the property from the storage facility or make arrangements to transfer the title, and such transfer of title subject to agreement shall be in complete satisfaction of all claims for towing and storage, to the towing company or storage facility. The owner of the abandoned vehicle, lienholder or insurer, to the extent the vehicle owner's insurance policy covers towing and storage charges, shall pay reasonable fees assessed by the towing company and storage facility. The property shall be claimed and removed or title transferred to the towing company or storage facility within thirty days of the date that the insurer paid a claim for the total loss of the property or is notified as to the location of the abandoned property, whichever is the later event. Upon request, the insurer of the property shall supply the towing company and storage facility with the name, address and phone number of the insurance company and of the insured and with a statement regarding which party is responsible for the payment of towing and storage charges under the insurance policy. (L. 1996 S.B. 560, A.L. 1999 S.B. 19, A.L. 2004 H.B. 996 and H.B. 1142 and H.B. 1201 and H.B. 1489)

*This section was amended by both H.B. 996, et al., and S.B. 1233, et al. during the Second Regular Session of the 92nd General Assembly, 2004. Due to possible conflict, both versions are printed here.

Notice to towing company, owner or lienholder, when--storage charges, when authorized--search of vehicle for ownership documents--petition, determination of wrongful taking--possessory lien, new title, how issued--sale of abandoned property by municipality or county--towing company, new title when.

304.156. 1. Within five working days of receipt of the crime inquiry and inspection report under section 304.155 or the abandoned property report under section 304.157, the director of revenue shall search the records of the department of revenue, or initiate an inquiry with another state, if the evidence presented indicated the abandoned property was registered or titled in another state, to determine the name and address of the owner and lienholder, if any. After ascertaining the name and address of the owner and lienholder, if any, the department shall, within fifteen working days, notify the towing company. Any towing company which comes into possession of abandoned property pursuant to section 304.155 or 304.157 and who claims a lien for recovering, towing or storing abandoned property shall give notice to the title owner and to all persons claiming a lien thereon, as disclosed by the records of the department of revenue or of a corresponding agency in any other state. The towing company shall notify the owner and any lienholder within ten business days of the date of mailing indicated on the notice sent by the department of revenue, by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall contain the following:

  1. The name, address and telephone number of the storage facility;
  2. The date, reason and place from which the abandoned property was removed;
  3. A statement that the amount of the accrued towing, storage and administrative costs are the responsibility of the owner, and that storage and/or administrative costs will continue to accrue as a legal liability of the owner until the abandoned property is redeemed;
  4. A statement that the storage firm claims a possessory lien for all such charges;
  5. A statement that the owner or holder of a valid security interest of record may retake possession of the abandoned property at any time during business hours by proving ownership or rights to a secured interest and paying all towing and storage charges;
  6. A statement that, should the owner consider that the towing or removal was improper or not legally justified, the owner has a right to request a hearing as provided in this section to contest the propriety of such towing or removal;
  7. A statement that if the abandoned property remains unclaimed for thirty days from the date of mailing the notice, title to the abandoned property will be transferred to the person or firm in possession of the abandoned property free of all prior liens; and
  8. (8) A statement that any charges in excess of the value of the abandoned property at the time of such transfer shall remain a liability of the owner.

2. A towing company may only assess reasonable storage charges for abandoned property towed without the consent of the owner. Reasonable storage charges shall not exceed the charges for vehicles which have been towed with the consent of the owner on a negotiated basis. Storage charges may be assessed only for the time in which the towing company complies with the procedural requirements of sections 304.155 to 304.158.

3. In the event that the records of the department of revenue fail to disclose the name of the owner or any lienholder of record, the department shall notify the towing company which shall attempt to locate documents or other evidence of ownership on or within the abandoned property itself. The towing company must certify that a physical search of the abandoned property disclosed that no ownership documents were found and a good faith effort has been made. For purposes of this section, "good faith effort" means that the following checks have been performed by the company to establish the prior state of registration and title:

  1. Check of the abandoned property for any type of license plates, license plate record, temporary permit, inspection sticker, decal or other evidence which may indicate a state of possible registration and title;
  2. Check the law enforcement report for a license plate number or registration number if the abandoned property was towed at the request of a law enforcement agency;
  3. Check the tow ticket/report of the tow truck operator to see if a license plate was on the abandoned property at the beginning of the tow, if a private tow; and
  4. If there is no address of the owner on the impound report, check the law enforcement report to see if an out-of-state address is indicated on the driver license information.

4. If no ownership information is discovered, the director of revenue shall be notified in writing and title obtained in accordance with subsection 7 of this section.

5.

  1. The owner of the abandoned property removed pursuant to the provisions of section 304.155 or 304.157 or any person claiming a lien, other than the towing company, within ten days after the receipt of notification from the towing company pursuant to subsection 1 of this section may file a petition in the associate circuit court in the county where the abandoned property is stored to determine if the abandoned property was wrongfully taken or withheld from the owner. The petition shall name the towing company among the defendants. The petition may also name the agency ordering the tow or the owner, lessee or agent of the real property from which the abandoned property was removed. The director of revenue shall not be a party to such petition but a copy of the petition shall be served on the director of revenue who shall not issue title to such abandoned property pursuant to this section until the petition is finally decided.
  2. Upon filing of a petition in the associate circuit court, the owner or lienholder may have the abandoned property released upon posting with the court a cash or surety bond or other adequate security equal to the amount of the charges for towing and storage to ensure the payment of such charges in the event he does not prevail. Upon the posting of the bond and the payment of the applicable fees, the court shall issue an order notifying the towing company of the posting of the bond and directing the towing company to release the abandoned property. At the time of such release, after reasonable inspection, the owner or lienholder shall give a receipt to the towing company reciting any claims for loss or damage to the abandoned property or the contents thereof.
  3. Upon determining the respective rights of the parties, the final order of the court shall provide for immediate payment in full of recovery, towing, and storage fees by the abandoned property owner or lienholder or the owner, lessee, or agent thereof of the real property from which the abandoned property was removed.

6. A towing and storage lien shall be enforced as provided in subsection 7 of this section.

7. Thirty days after the notification form has been mailed to the abandoned property owner and holder of a security agreement and the property is unredeemed and no satisfactory arrangement has been made with the lienholder in possession for continued storage, and the owner or holder of a security agreement has not requested a hearing as provided in subsection 5 of this section, the lienholder in possession may apply to the director of revenue for a certificate. The application for title shall be accompanied by:

  1. An affidavit from the lienholder in possession that he has been in possession of the abandoned property for at least thirty days and the owner of the abandoned property or holder of a security agreement has not made arrangements for payment of towing and storage charges;
  2. An affidavit that the lienholder in possession has not been notified of any application for hearing as provided in this section;
  3. A copy of the abandoned property report or crime inquiry and inspection report;
  4. A copy of the thirty-day notice given by certified mail to any owner and person holding a valid security interest and a copy of the certified mail receipt indicating that the owner and lienholder of record was sent a notice as required in this section; and
  5. A copy of the envelope or mailing container showing the address and postal markings indicating that the notice was "not forwardable" or "address unknown".

8. If notice to the owner and holder of a security agreement has been returned marked "not forwardable" or "addressee unknown", the lienholder in possession shall comply with subsection 3 of this section.

9. Any municipality or county may adopt an ordinance regulating the removal and sale of abandoned property provided such ordinance is consistent with sections 304.155 to 304.158, and, for a home rule city with more than four hundred thousand inhabitants and located in more than one county, includes the following provisions:

  1. That the department of revenue records must be searched to determine the registered owner or lienholder of the abandoned property;
  2. That if a registered owner or lienholder is disclosed in the records, that the owner and lienholder or owner or lienholder are mailed a notice by the local governmental agency, by U.S. mail, advising of the towing and impoundment;
  3. That if the vehicle is older than six years and more than fifty percent damaged by collision, fire, or decay, and has a fair market value of less than two hundred dollars as determined by using any nationally recognized appraisal book or method, it must be held no less than ten days after the notice is sent pursuant to this section before being sold to a licensed salvage or scrap business; provided however where a title is required under this chapter an affidavit from a certified appraiser attesting that the value of the vehicle is less than two hundred dollars;
  4. That all other vehicles must be held no less than thirty days after the notice is sent pursuant to this subsection before they may be sold.

10. Any municipality or county which has physical possession of the abandoned property and which sells abandoned property in accordance with a local ordinance may transfer ownership by means of a bill of sale signed by the municipal or county clerk or deputy and sealed with the official municipal or county seal. Such bill of sale shall contain the make and model of the abandoned property, the complete abandoned property identification number and the odometer reading of the abandoned property if available and shall be lawful proof of ownership for any dealer registered under the provisions of section 301.218, RSMo, or section 301.560, RSMo, or for any other person. Any dealer or other person purchasing such property from a municipality or county shall apply within thirty days of purchase for a certificate. Anyone convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of an infraction.

11. Any persons who have towed abandoned property prior to August 28, 1996, may, until January 1, 2000, apply to the department of revenue for a certificate. The application shall be accompanied by:

  1. A notarized affidavit explaining the circumstances by which the abandoned property came into their possession, including the name of the owner or possessor of real property from which the abandoned property was removed;
  2. The date of the removal;
  3. The current location of the abandoned property;
  4. An inspection of the abandoned property as prescribed by the director; and
  5. A copy of the thirty-day notice given by certified mail to any owner and person holding a valid security interest of record and a copy of the certified mail receipt.

12. If the director is satisfied with the genuineness of the application and supporting documents submitted pursuant to this section, the director shall issue one of the following:

  1. An original certificate of title if the vehicle owner has obtained a vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, which indicates that the vehicle was not previously in a salvaged condition or rebuilt;
  2. An original certificate of title designated as prior salvage if the vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, indicates the vehicle was previously in a salvage condition or rebuilt;
  3. A salvage certificate of title designated with the words "salvage/abandoned property" or junking certificate based on the condition of the abandoned property as stated in the abandoned property report or crime inquiry and inspection report;
  4. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 301.573, RSMo, to the contrary, if satisfied with the genuineness of the application and supporting documents, the director shall issue an original title to abandoned property previously issued a salvage title as provided in this section, if the vehicle examination certificate as provided in section 301.190, RSMo, does not indicate the abandoned property was previously in a salvage condition or rebuilt.

13. If abandoned property is insured and the insurer of property regards the property as a total loss and the insurer satisfies a claim by the owner for the property, then the insurer or lienholder shall claim and remove the property from the storage facility or make arrangements to transfer the title, and such transfer of title subject to agreement shall be in complete satisfaction of all claims for towing and storage, to the towing company or storage facility. The owner of the abandoned vehicle, lienholder or insurer, to the extent the vehicle owner's insurance policy covers towing and storage charges, shall pay reasonable fees assessed by the towing company and storage facility. The property shall be claimed and removed or title transferred to the towing company or storage facility within thirty days of the date that the insurer paid a claim for the total loss of the property or is notified as to the location of the abandoned property, whichever is the later event. Upon request, the insurer of the property shall supply the towing company and storage facility with the name, address and phone number of the insurance company and of the insured and with a statement regarding which party is responsible for the payment of towing and storage charges under the insurance policy."