• FORFEITURES OF PROPERTY
Areas of Legal Practice: Joseph J. Pappacoda
Has your money, automobile, or other property been confiscated by the police, or agent of the federal government? If the property is not evidence of a crime, chances are that those law enforcement agencies intend to forfeit the property either as property used in the commission of a crime (e.g. a get-away car from a bank robbery), property used as an instrumentality of a crime (e.g. a car driving large sums of money, and/or contraband), or property obtained from the fruits of a crime (e.g. a car purchased with stolen funds).
In many instances the owner of the property does not have knowledge that his or her property was used for some unlawful purpose, and he should be able to get it back from the authority confiscating it. If a forfeiture case is filed against your property, you will receive a notice of intent to forfeit the property, generally within 10 days following the seizure, and thereafter, a forfeiture complaint will follow. If a forfeiture action is filed, you will need to fight the forfeiture, or you will lose title to your property. Law enforcement agencies have trust funds comprised of monies gleaned from the sale of forfeited property, which is then used to purchase police cars, equipment, firearms and other equipment, in an effort to reduce budgetary requests for these items. These trust funds are authorized by law.
Some agencies will attempt to hold your seized property indefinitely, without filing a forfeiture action, by labeling the property “evidence”, when in fact the property is not “evidence”. This is improper and you should be able to have the property returned to you immediately if the procedural requirements of forfeitures have been ignored, or where the authority does not intend to file a forfeiture action against the property.
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