Summons, Complaint and Warrant of Arrest In Rem
A warrant of arrest in rem may be initiated either by a private party or by a federal agency. Where initiated by a private party, the warrant is issued to enforce a maritime lien against a particular vessel or cargo. Where initiated by a federal agency, the warrant is issued to enforce a forfeiture pursuant to a federal statute. When the forfeiture action is against real property, a notice of the complaint will be posted in lieu of serving a warrant of arrest in rem.
Territorial Limits Maritime Actions
In rem warrants or notice of the complaint may be executed only within the district of issuance, with the exception of the concurrent jurisdiction between the Eastern and Southern districts of New York [28 USC 112 (b) and (c)].
A forfeiture action may be instituted either in the district in which the property was located at the time of seizure or in the district to which the property was moved for storage after seizure. In addition, in forfeiture actions under the Controlled Substances Act [21 USC 881 (j)], the action may be brought in the district where the person whose actions gave rise to the forfeiture is located. In the latter case, the warrant of arrest in rem or notice of the complaint is forwarded to the district where the property is located for execution.
A warrant of arrest in rem or notice of the complaint is issued by the Clerk of the U.S. District Court. The warrant or notice of the complaint is issued under Rule C, Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, pursuant to a complaint for forfeiture brought by the U.S. Attorney, in a case brought by the federal government, or in a private matter, pursuant to a complaint by a private litigant. The summons directs the party to be served (owner or other interested party) to answer the complaint.
In all actions (except forfeiture actions where the original seizure was made by the Department of Homeland Security or complaint for forfeiture originated with the Department of Homeland Security), the warrant in rem or notice of the complaint is executed by a U.S. Marshal or Deputy U.S. Marshal. In forfeiture actions where the original seizure was made by the Department of Homeland Security or complaint for forfeiture originated with the Department of Homeland Security, the warrant in rem or notice of the complaint may be executed by a U.S. Customs agent.
Manner of Service
The complaint and warrant are posted on the property by the U.S. Marshal, Deputy U.S. Marshal, or, in Homeland Security cases only, by a Homeland Security officer. Unless otherwise specified, service of the complaint and warrant may be accomplished by certified mail to the party(ies) identified on the documentation.
Return will be made by means of a U.S. marshals Service Form-285, recording any action taken pursuant to the instructions contained on the form.
Note: The information related to the service of court process that is contained on this web site is general information and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive explanation or depiction of Federal rules of procedures for the service of process. Readers are directed to the Federal Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure; personal legal counsel; the United States Code, Titles 18 and 28; their local U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for specific, authoritative guidance.