Understanding Forfeiture Cases
The state of Mississippi recently made news when they announced that they will begin keeping track of every asset that is forfeited to the state. Starting July 1, 2017, the state will begin to track anything that is taken by the police due to its connection with criminal activity. This plan was passed by their state house of representatives in an effort to provide transparency. Across the country forfeiture laws are the topic of heated debate as supporters and detractors of forfeiture laws stick closely to their viewpoints on the matter.
Forfeiture In Florida
In Florida, forfeiture is often a separate case where law enforcement tries to claim ownership over property that was confiscated due to its connection with criminal activity. In most cases, forfeiture laws essentially allow police to take an individual’s property and hold onto it forever. In most cases it is relatively simple for law enforcement to claim ownership over an individual’s property and it is typically up to the original owner of the property to prove that the property was legitimate and not connected to criminal activity. Unfortunately, this process can often take years to resolve and it is common for individuals to simply give up trying to regain their belongings.
To make matters worse, the state does not need to convict you of a crime in order to keep the property that has been forfeited. In fact, you do not even need to be arrested in order for the state to proceed forward with a civil forfeiture case. Essentially, if they believe the property is connected to a crime, they can go after it on little to no grounds. It is common to see forfeiture cases where police never pursued an arrest and the state simply pursued a civil forfeiture case from the beginning.
This practice is not received well across the state, and many question the legality of the practice altogether. All forfeiture cases are civil cases, therefore, civil court procedures apply. Thus, the state only needs to a preponderance of evidence in order to win the case. This burden is much less than the criminal court level where the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the event that law enforcement seizes your property, it is best to immediately speak with your lawyer to discuss the potential options you have. There is a certain timeline that must be adhered to in order to attempt to reclaim the property that has been taken.
Let Us Help you with Your Case
Regardless of where you are in the criminal court process it is important to know that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a world of difference. When you meet with your lawyer you will be able to go over the specifics of your case. This will allow your lawyer to analyze your situation and develop a plan for your case. Do not put your freedom in jeopardy, if you are in need of assistance, contact the Baez Law Firm in Miami today to for a free consultation.