State authorities have made it a common practice to seek civil asset forfeiture, particularly in drug cases. It can be this simple: a person is driving in his car. He is pulled over by police. A passenger in the car is found to be in possession of illegal drugs. The police seize the car, and the Attorney General seeks forfeiture.
When the State seizes property and seeks forfeiture, it is usually not difficult for them to prevail. Unlike a criminal trial, they do not have to prove their case “beyond reasonable doubt.” Rather, the State only has to prove that the property was involved in criminal activity by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Because drugs have already been found in the car (for example) this is often not a heavy burden.
If your property has been seized in this manner, it can be complicated to try and get it back. You will need to file a claim for the property, and you may need to litigate a civil proceeding against the Attorney General’s office. To add insult to injury, if it is your car that has been seized, you will need to interact with the police impound lot – which is rarely a pleasant experience.
If all of this is not bad enough, sometimes the local authorities will turn a forfeiture matter over to the federal authorities, who have far more resources available to pursue your assets. Once the case is in the hands of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it becomes even more difficult to challenge the forfeiture. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is a well-oiled forfeiture machine, and it can be an intimidating task to stand up to them.
At Brown Law, we are experience in State and Federal asset forfeiture. We have handled large cash forfeitures, and we have recovered multiple vehicles for our clients. If your property has been seized and the State is seeking forfeiture, or if it has been referred to the feds, please do not hesitate to contact us.