Articles Posted in Forfeiture of Property

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.

If Jacksonville police officers are investigating a drug crime or other felony and determine that a crime has occurred or is occurring, the Jacksonville police officers may seize money or other property that is being used in connection with that crime or is proceeds of the drug or other criminal activity. The law that allows the police to take, and try to keep, property from people that is connected to a crime is called the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. Basically, the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA) sets up procedures whereby police can seize and ultimately forfeit property that is used in connection with a drug or other felony crime.

In Jacksonville, this seizure and forfeiture of property in connection with a drug or other felony crime commonly occurs when an officer pulls over a suspect and finds drugs and cash in the vehicle. The police officer may then seize the cash and the vehicle as well as the drugs and claim that the cash and vehicle were used to facilitate a drug crime or were proceeds of a drug crime. The government then has to notify the owner(s) of the property seized that they intend to forfeit, or keep, that property. The owner(s) then has to actively make a claim for the property, and the case is litigated through the civil court system.

It is also common for the police to seize and attempt to forfeit property that is owned by someone who has no knowledge of any criminal activity. For instance, if in the example above, the vehicle belonged to a friend or relative who let the criminal suspect borrow his/her car and had no idea drugs would be transported in the vehicle, that owner would be what is called an innocent owner. The Florida forfeiture laws do not allow the police and the government to forfeit property from someone who had no knowledge of the drug or other criminal activity that is the basis of the forfeiture. In the past and in some states other than Florida, it was up to the innocent owner of the property to show that he/she did not know and had no reason to know that his/her property was used in connection with drug or other felony criminal activity. However, under the Florida forfeiture laws, the government has the burden of proving that it is more likely than not that the owner of the property they seek to forfeit did not, and had no reason to, know of the criminal activity. If the government cannot meet that burden, that property must be returned to the owner under the Florida forfeiture laws.

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