Written by attorney Charles B. Frye

Replevy Bonds in Texas Asset Forfeiture Cases

"Can I get my property back while the forfeiture case is going on?" Yes, although you must carefully consider the costs and benefits that you will incur if you make that decision. Civil cases often take months, if not longer than a year, to be resolved. For most people and families, that is a long time to go without a vehicle. Article 59.02 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides that "any property that is contraband other than property held as evidence in a criminal investigation or a pending criminal case, money, a negotiable instrument, or a security that is seized under this chapter may be replevied by the owner or interest holder of the property, on execution of a good and valid bond with sufficient surety in a sum equal to the appraised value of the property replevied." The bond may be approved as to form and substance by the court after the court gives notice of the bond to the authority holding the seized property. The bond must be conditioned (1) on return of the property to the custody of the state on the day of hearing of the forfeiture proceedings; and (2) that the interest holder or owner of the property will abide by the decision that may be made in the cause. Most of the time, the only property you will want to consider filing a bond for return during the case will be a vehicle. You can't post a bond to get your money returned before the end of the case, and if the State claims that the property is being held as evidence, you don't have a right to post a bond for the return of that property, either. And, keep in mind, if you lose the case, but don't return the property, the Court will order the bond you posted forfeited in its place. If you want to get the Court to set a bond, then in the case of a vehicle, your lawyer will need the following information and documents to consider and prepare the motion for approval of the bond and to make an argument for the return of the property while the case is pending: A. Copy of the title and most recent registration; B. Copy of any loan documents where the vehicle is the collateral; C. The "blue book" (NADA) value of the vehicle and the source of the valuation; D. The amount of any balance owed (total) on the vehicle financing. Once that information is gathered and evaluated, you can consult with your lawyer whether you want to bear the expense of a commercial bond to secure the return of the vehicle pending the resolution of the case. Commercial bond fees vary widely, so, you should probably contact a bonding company to determine what it may charge you for issuing this bond. If your lawyer is able to obtain approval for the filing of a bond, and then if the Court rules against you in the forfeiture case on final judgment, then you must either return the property (the vehicle) to the State or forfeit the bond. Forfeiting the bond could be quite expensive, depending on the terms with the commercial bonding company and surety, so, you will want to understand those terms in the beginning before you make this decision.

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