How to Reclaim Your Property if the Police Seized Your Assets
Reclaiming personal property that was seized by the police can be frustrating. The assistance of a qualified legal professional can make the process a good deal easier to endure. The police are required to prepare a voucher listing any property that was seized as part of a criminal arrest or investigation.
Seizure of Personal Effects
If a criminal suspect does not receive a receipt describing the property that was seized because they were in the process of being transferred to a police facility, they can obtain a copy of the voucher after they are released from custody. The arrest date and number will be required to obtain the voucher. The suspect should refuse to sign a voucher that is inaccurate and speak with an attorney about the missing items. Personal effects may be seized for any of the following reasons:
- Safekeeping: The seizure of vehicles, money and other valuables sometimes occurs in order to ensure that they aren’t stolen during the detained person’s absence. Property that was seized for safekeeping can be reclaimed by presenting a voucher and proof of identification at the appropriate police facility.
- Forfeiture: Property that the police believe was obtained or used during the commission of a crime will be seized. Forfeited property can be kept permanently or sold if the police can prove that the items were used or obtained illegally. Property that is subject to forfeiture often includes vehicles that were used during the commission of a crime, money used in illegal gambling or drug operations, merchandise that was sold without a proper license or equipment that was used to commit a crime.
- Evidence: Personal property can be temporarily seized to use as evidence in a criminal prosecution. Property that was seized as evidence may be held until a criminal case is finally resolved.
- Contraband: Property that is illegal to possess will be seized as contraband, including illegal weapons, drugs,forged papers or counterfeit money. Contraband is usually destroyed once a criminal proceeding is concluded. A defense lawyer will examine the contraband and determine whether it was legally obtained.
Reclaiming Seized Property
A suspect or designated agent is required to present an official voucher at the appropriate police facility to reclaim property that was seized for safekeeping. Property that was seized as evidence cannot be returned until a prosecutor indicates in writing that the property is no longer required. Appealing a case can significantly delay the return of personal property.
Reclaiming a vehicle will require proof of ownership in addition to a police property voucher. A knowledgeable criminal lawyer may be able to arrange an earlier release of some seized property. If the district attorney denies a request to release seized property, the defendant is entitled to a hearing.