Abandoned, Lost, and Mislaid PropertyAbandonedoIf found under circumstances indicating either that it was left by someone who didnot want it any more, or was left so long ago that the former owner almost certainly was no longer living.oThe nature of the property, its location, and other relevant factors can be taken into account in determining whether the property should be classified as abandonedLostoIf it was discovered under circumstances indicating that it was not placed there voluntarily by the owner (such as a purse, wallet, or ring found on a stree).MislaidoProperty discovered under the circumstance indicating that it was placed there voluntarily by the owner and then forgotten (such as a suitcase under the seat of an airplane or bus or a purse on a table in a restaurant)There are “finding statutes” which differ by jurisdictionState of Texas vs. $281,420.00Mercado asked Huerta, owner of Greg’s Towing, to tow a disabled Freightliner truck-tractor from Alvin, TX to Mercedes, TX for approximately $2,800. Huerta agreed. Law enforcement officers seized the truck while it was being towed. Huerta gave them permission to search the truck and, indeed, helped them. They discovered a large amount of cash ($281,420) hidden in an axle. Neither the person who hired Huerta to
tow the truck (Mercado) nor the owner of the truck (Pulido) made any claim regarding the money.The jury found that the currency was not contraband, that Huerta was in actual or joint possession of the currency at the time of seizure, and that Huerta should be awarded $70,000 (roughly 25%) of the currency found in the hub housing. The trial judge set the verdict aside and ordered forfeiture of all the money to Hidalgo County. The court of appeals held that the state had not established that the money was contraband and that Huerta was entitled to the entire amount. The State appealed.Result: Because Huerta failed to establish a valid legal claim to possession of the currency, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals awarding the money to him, and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.Escheat StatutesAll states also have enacted escheat statutes, which normally provide that intangible property such as money, corporate stock, or bonds is presumed abandoned if it has remained in the possession of a custodian, such as a bank or securities dealer, for a specified time period without any deposits, withdrawals, or other contact by the owner. The time period provided by these statutes is usually lengthy, seven years being a common term. After passage of this time period, a state governmental authority ordinarily is required to publish notices identifying the property; if the property still remains unclaimed for a shorter period, such as six months, the state becomes the owner.