What is civil forfeiture?
Civil forfeiture is the process by which the police can seize your private property if they believe it was used in the commission of a crime. This is usually done when you are arrested for that crime.
What is an example of civil forfeiture?
A driver is pulled over for a traffic violation and the police find large amounts of drugs and cash. The police arrest the driver for drug possession and drug distribution. The police seize the cash under the theory that this cash was used in the commission of the crime of drug distribution.
What happens next?
The defendant will have to report to criminal court to answer the criminal complaints. The prosecutor files a lawsuit in civil court for the property. The defendant then has to appear in both criminal court and civil court. If the defendant fails to file an answer for the civil suit, the property will be forfeited.
Should I hire an attorney if I was arrested and my property was seized?
Yes. If this happened to you, chances are the crime or crimes you are accuses of are serious. An attorney can represent you through both the criminal and the civil proceeding in order to protect your rights.