Written by attorney Julie Anne Swain

The Police Took My Money! Asset Forfeiture in Drug Cases

Why did the police take my money? Often times, an arrest for drug sales includes the seizure of your money or property by the police. If your money was seized simply for evidence, the police will hold it while your case is pending.

However, if you were arrested for certain drug crimes like sales or possession for sale, the state may try to keep your money. In California, the local District Attorney’s office will start Asset Forfeiture proceedings and your property (i.e. money) will be forfeited if you do not file the correct paperwork to object to the forfeiture.

When money is seized after an arrest, you should have received a piece of paper titled: “Receipt for Seizure and Personal Notice of Intended Forfeiture." This notice lists the amount of money taken, the alleged drug charge and where to file your objection to the seizure.

Most importantly, you only have 30 days to file your objection to the forfeiture. If you wait too long your money may be gone. Undoing a forfeiture seizure is a complicated process where a judge is asked to set aside the forfeiture. However, once the forfeiture is set aside you are back to square one and have to fight to get the money back. This requires showing a legitimate owner or source for the money.

The bottom line: an arrest for certain drug crimes can trigger forfeiture proceedings for any property or cash seized by the police. An attorney well versed in drug crimes and asset forfeiture can protect your rights and your cash.

Julie Swain

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