Published on:

Have the Police Taken Your Property? Be Careful of Strict Forfeiture Laws in Florida

Police in Jacksonville, Florida and other areas of Florida can take property from people arrested (or under investigation) for various crimes and attempt to keep that property pursuant to the Florida forfeiture laws. This is called a forfeiture. It is important to understand the difference between seizure and forfeiture in Florida. A seizure takes place when the police take property from someone who is being investigated or has been accused of a crime. This taking is often done because the police consider the property evidence of a crime. If the police do not take any further steps regarding that property, it should ultimately be returned to the rightful owner. However, Florida law also allows the police to obtain ownership of the property if the police can establish the property was used to facilitate, or consisted of proceeds of, certain criminal activity. If the police and the state are successful, ownership of the property transfers to the state.

This kind of forfeiture often takes place in drug cases. For instance, Jacksonville police may stop a vehicle and conduct an investigation and find an illegal drug such as cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy or methamphetamine in the vehicle along with a large quantity of cash. The Jacksonville police and the state may decide to try and forfeit both the vehicle and the cash claiming they are being used and/or are proceeds of illegal drug activity. Florida law gives the police the right to initiate forfeiture actions on seized property for all kinds of property related to all kinds of crimes. The police can even try to forfeit a vehicle from someone arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).

If you have had an encounter with the police in Jacksonville, Florida or in the Jacksonville area and the police have seized certain property belonging to you, or that you possessed that belongs to someone else, it is important that you assert your rights to your property immediately. There are important deadlines that, if missed, can result in the forfeiture of your property. If you have any questions about property that has been seized and/or forfeited, feel free to contact us so we can help you protect your rights and recover your property.