Can the police forfeit my money or car?

Can the Police Seize My Money or My Car?

The police can seize your money, car, or other property if they have probable cause to believe that the property was used or attempted to be used in the commission of a felony. They can also seize it if they think that the property is “proceeds” of a felony, for instance if you have no legal source of income and you have a lot of cash.

In Florida, the seizure laws are under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. If your property was seized by the police, they must immediately provide you with a NOTICE OF SEIZURE notifying you of your right to a quick adversarial preliminary hearing to determine if there was probable cause to seize your property. This is because under the United States Constitution your property cannot be seized without due process of law. Should you win the hearing, you can recoup up to $1,000.00 in attorney’s fees. Should you lose the hearing the case will be set for trial and the police will have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property was used to commit an illegal act or is proceeds of illegal activity. You cannot do any of this on your own. You need an experienced forfeiture law attorney to handle these matters.

In Federal Court, property seizure is often alleged in the criminal Indictment or with the criminal charges brought against you. Sometimes though, the Feds seize your property without even charging you with a crime, especially when you are detained with a large sum of cash. In that situation, you must have an attorney that knows how to claim your property through the seizing agency or through fighting the seizure in court. If you get a Notice from a Federal agency notifying you that your property was seized, it is important that you contact an attorney immediately so that your property rights are protected.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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