Asset Forfeiture in Tennessee
In Tennessee, they can take your car, your property and your money if you are committing a crime or, if the police officer has probable cause to believe you are committing a crime.
Any of the following activities subject you to possible forfeiture of your car or other assets:Stuff you use to commit arson (burning down something you shouldn't burn down); Violation of someone's personal rights as regulated by trade practices (you put Smokey's picture on a bunch of T shirts and sell them without permission); Drugs - pretty much any crime related to drugs - possession, sale, delivery, manufacture - and that can be prescription drugs as well as meth; Driving after you lost your license for a DUI; they can take alcohol sold by an unlicensed dealer; they can take untaxed alcohol; they can take untaxed tobacco products; they can take your car and equipment for storing or transporting illegally captured game, specifically, bear and deer.
Here's how they do it:If the seizing officer has probable cause to believe you used your car, for example, in the commission of a drug crime, then he can seize your car. Then, he has to take a warrant to a judge showing probable cause to seize your stuff. He has to provide an affidavit with the warrant. If the judge signs the warrant, then they have your stuff. They then tell you about a hearing. If you don't respond, they keep your stuff. If you go and lose, they keep your stuff. If you appeal and lose, they keep your stuff. See how it works, they keep your stuff.
What if I still owe money against the asset:The lender can make a claim against the asset, but if you don't and the lender doesn't, you still owe. You still have to make your payments. I had a client whose car was seized and he made payments for over a year before he got it back.
How you get your stuff back (or not):They want to make a deal with you. They want you to agree to let them keep your stuff. Or, they want you to agree to pay for it, or, if it's cash, split it with them. Bottom line, they want your stuff. However, they have to send you notice of a hearing, before they can keep it. You have a limited period of time to respond. If you do, you can have a hearing. You have to refute the police officer's argument that there was probable cause you were committing a crime. You have to post a bond to do this. If you lose, you can appeal the loss, which is a good idea.