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How long can the police hold property if no charges filed?

Sacramento, CA |

A search warent was served without owner at property or prior notification. Seized were cable tv and phone modems, recordable VCRs, and CDs. Looking for child porn,but none would be found. The police will not return any calls from me or my wife concerning the status of the equipment. As I am paying $100 a month for this equipment, I would like some idea of where this case is standing. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Probably still in the investigation stage. The cops can keep the equipment for search until the statute of limitations expires. That is years from now. You might want to consider spending the money to retain an attorney to see about getting it back.
Talk to the service provider about either discontinuing the service or getting new equipment.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

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Posted

The police can say that they are still investigating the matter. If that is the case you can't get it back unless you bring a motion and get an order saying they MUST return it to you.

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Posted

A few things that might concern you about notice and an inventory. The California Penal Code Section 1535 states:
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When the officer takes property under the warrant, he must give a receipt for the property taken (specifying it in detail) to the person from whom it was taken by him, or in whose possession it was found; or, in the absence of any person, he must leave it in the place where he found the property.
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Pen C 1536:
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All property or things taken on a warrant must be retained by the officer in his custody, subject to the order of the court to which he is required to return the proceedings before him, or of any other court in which the offense in respect to which the property or things taken is triable.
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It would also be helpful for you to read Pen C 1538.5 to see if anything was defect in the warrant thereby allowing you file a motion to have that property returned. If there isn't anything defective about the procedure or the warrant, you will have to wait until they decide to return the property after the Statute of Limitations has run or decide not to file charges as the other attorneys have said.

As far as paying the monthly fee for the property, there may be a way to avoid paying for it, i.e. something in the contract. Is it rented or leased? Maybe you can start sending the bill to the police.

For informative purposes only. The attorney does not contemplate an attorney/client relationship being formed simply by providing information here nor is one thereby formed without a written contract for that attorney's services.

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Posted

Using forseeability, you must let the police know that for every month the equipment is not returned that you are incurring a $100 per month liability.

If they KNOW this in advance, then they KNOW that they are incurring a potential liability for keeping it.

If you spring up 3 years from now with a bill for $3600, the police will say "I didn't know!!!"

Have your attorney contact them with the particulars by registered mail or Express Mail so that you both go on record and let them know the cost of having them keep the equipment.

May work, may not, but at least you can say that they were aware of the cost, and EARLY in the period of alleged wrongful withholding.

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Curt Harrington
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Curt Harrington Patent & Tax Law Attorney Certified Tax Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization PATENTAX.COM This communication is general information and not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This communication should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice. Please note that no attorney-client relationship exists between the sender and the recipient of this message in the absence of either (1) a signed fee contract and (2) remission of an agreed-upon retainer. Absent such an agreement and retainer, I am not engaged by you as an attorney, nor is any other member of my law firm.

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