Criminal Forfeiture


Often times when people are arrested for a drug charge, the arrests are made on the side of a highway following a traffic stop. However, there are times when an arrest is made at the client's home; oftentimes after a warrant has been obtained. These are usually cases involving larger amounts of drugs and cash where a person is likely to be charged with felony trafficking in drugs (class A or B).

Typically when a client stores drugs and cash at his/her home, there are weapons in the house as well. Anything that is considered a weapon (knives, cross bows, compound bows, swords, shotguns, pistols, semi-automatic rifles, etc.), and anything associated with drug trafficking (large amounts of cash, scales, etc.) is subject to forfeiture.

I've represented numerous clients on drug charges and in many cases my clients live with someone else (spouse, girlfriend, roommate). In those cases, not only does the state have the burden to prove that the items sought for seizure are related to drug trafficking, but they also have to prove that those items belong to the client. When you have two or more people living together, the waters can get muddied.

In the case of a weapon, the state has the burden to show that the weapon (USUALLY a firearm) was or would be employed for the defense of the drug operation. Some of the ways the state can prove the weapon(s) are used for that purpose are as follows:

  • location of weapon in relation to where the drugs are stored;
  • is the firearm loaded or is it locked in a cabinet/case?
  • purpose of the weapon (IE, is it a hunting knife or a BIG machette?)

These are just a few examples of what type of evidence could be submitted in support or opposition of the criminal forfeiture action. If the weapons or cash belong to a 3rd party, it becomes that person's burden of proof to show that they are the true owners of those items.

Ultimately, if you've been charged with a drug offense and the state is looking to seize your personal items and assets, you need a criminal defense attorney to intercede on your behalf.

Categories: Criminal Defense
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