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What can be taken through civil asset forfeiture?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Florida’s civil asset forfeiture is supposed to be a way to deprive people of being able to use things that are the result of illegal activities. This is done to prevent it from being used to commit future crimes. Law enforcement agencies in the state must comply with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

Currently, law enforcement agencies in this state aren’t required to report what assets they seize under this law. One point to remember is that some assets taken under state law are eventually returned to the owner.

Types of property that can be taken

Any real or personal property can be taken under Florida law, but the property has to be tied to illegal activities. The most common types of property that are taken by agencies here are currency and vehicles. Homes and other real estate can be taken, but they rarely are seized.

Law enforcement agencies can also take weapons and drugs. Anything that’s used to commit a crime, including the transporting of drugs, can be seized. Drug paraphernalia and items used to distribute or sell drugs can also be taken.

Defenses to civil asset forfeiture

Once an asset is seized, it must go through a specific forfeiture process before it’s liquidated. This is when the owner of the assets can try to fight the forfeiture.

It’s possible to appeal a civil forfeiture, but many people don’t go through the process. Around 1% of civil forfeitures go through a civil trial. Around 16% of seizures are the subject of a request for an adversarial hearing.

Someone who doesn’t agree with the forfeiture can use a few different defense strategies, so you should consider them all if you’re facing this situation. The appeal you file must be valid and truthful, and it needs to fall under one of these broad categories.

  • Assets were seized without probable cause
  • Forfeiture value doesn’t match the alleged crime
  • Owner of seized property didn’t know about criminal activity

The civil forfeiture process is very detailed, so appeals of a seizure or forfeiture must be handled precisely. Having someone on your side who’s familiar with this area of the law may help you to launch a successful case against civil forfeiture.