Seizing and forfeiting vehicles and money is big business for the police and law enforcement. Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the police can take your car and sell it if it was used in the commission of most felonies. They do this in the Internet Sting cases. They also do this in cases involving drugs and other crimes. When they run across money, even legitimate money, many times they will try and find some way to justify keeping it. In their eyes, if you have “cash”, you must have done something wrong.
As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney, for over thirty years I have been fighting to get my clients property back. If the police took your car, or worse yet your money, you do have certain rights. You have a right to an “adversarial preliminary hearing” within days. We can file a demand and they have to go in front of a judge immediately and justify even the temporary detention of you vehicle or money. They then have to prove is a separate civil proceeding their right to take and keep it. In the real world, the police extort people with threats of prosecution and bully them into giving up a portion of their money or bully them into paying fees to get their car back. No one will ever prosecute them for this, but it happens all the time. If you had money taken and get a “Notice of Seizure”, there is some good news. At least the police were partially honest and reported taking the money. In the real world, police sometimes simply steal your money and your drugs. In the real world, there are a bad cops out there. If you are lucky enough to get a seizure notice, a good experienced forfeiture attorney may be able to get your money or your car back.
There is a provision in the law for “innocent owners”. A classic example is a bank or a finance company. You need to move quickly and contact a lawyer, because often, the police simply give the car to the bank, the bank calls the loan and your car is gone. Many times your parents or a relative put up the money to buy the car. If the title appears clear and there are no loans on the vehicle, chances are the cops will try and keep it. If you got arrested and cannot get your car back, call today for a free consultation at 941 366 3506