Is It Legal For Police To Confiscate Your Property After A Drug Charge?
Every year, the police take vehicles, houses, boats, motorcycles, and cash under something called civil asset forfeiture. Sometimes it is known as civil judicial forfeiture. This means the police suspect that the property was used in the commission of a crime and they (legally) take the property. The only way the citizen can get the property back is to prove to the court that the property was not used in the commission of a crime. This is something our Port St. Lucie drug crimes attorneys can help with.
For example, if the police find illegal drugs on a boat (more than one would expect to be for personal use), they may think the boat is being used to transport and/or delivery drugs, and they can confiscate the boat. If the boat owner cannot prove that the boat was not being used to transport or deliver drugs, the state keeps the boat, and it will be auctioned off, with the money going to the state.
It is no secret that there is a big drug problem in the state of Florida (as in other states), and this has led to a lot of property being confiscated over the years. Some reports say Florida consulates up to 20-million dollars’ worth of property per year. If that number is even close, this is a major issue. While most officers are honest and law-abiding people, this process did leave room for the rare, dishonest officer to help themselves to whatever they wanted.
In 2016, new laws were placed to make it a little more difficult for the police to take your property legally. No longer can a police officer confiscate your property simply because they suspect that a crime is being committed. They can only confiscate your property after an arrest has been made, and they must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was being used in the commission of the crime.
The stipulations of the new law state that the seizing agency must put up a $1500.00 bond. This money will go to the property owner in the event that the property owner was found innocent of the crime. They must also pay a $1,000.00 filing fee.
While this does not apply to cash confiscation, even in those cases, the seizing agency must post a bond and go before the court.
Do You Need An Attorney?
This is a case where a drug crimes attorney is needed. There are procedures and steps that must be taken to fight to get your property back. Further, there are strict deadlines to follow. For example, it is very important that you file an adversarial preliminary hearing to contest the seizure of your property. In cases where you file with the state, you have 15 days from the date of the notice to file this. If you are filing it with federal courts, you only have ten days. There is no getting around it. These time frames are final. Your drug crimes lawyer can handle the filing within the time frame required by law.
If you have received a notice of seizure of your property, contact a drug crimes attorney immediately.