In Georgia, there is the “Georgia Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act.” This act guides the process used in the courts when the government seeks to take property from its citizens. The local prosecutors are responsible for filing for forfeiture proceedings. They can file the action in a few different places. It is, however, most common for the forfeiture proceeding to take place in the county where the conduct leading to the proceedings occurred. If you had your property taken from you, you do have options if you retain a skilled defense attorney. Let a Newnan asset forfeiture lawyer fight on your behalf to defend your rights.

Seizure of a Vehicle

Vehicles are one of the most common things seized by law enforcement. Sometimes the person that owns the vehicle is not present when the vehicle is seized. In that scenario, the seizing officer has to try and find out who owns the car and inform that person their vehicle has been seized.

Seizure of Property in General

Any officer who has the authority to make arrests has the power to seize property in Georgia. Officers can take your property without any sort of process in court if the property is seized because of an arrest, a search warrant, or an inspection warrant (inspection warrants are commonly used in animal cruelty cases).

Reporting the Seizure

When cops take people’s property they have 30 days to report the seizure in writing and conduct an inventory of the property. Additionally, they must estimate the value of the property and provide the estimation to the district attorney.

When the district attorney receives this paperwork they have 60 days to initiate a quasi-judicial forfeiture or file a complaint for forfeiture.

These timelines are absolutely critical. You must examine them because if the officer or the district attorney fails to comply the property will be released to the owner unless it is being held as evidence. It is, however, possible that the DA will convince the judge to put conditions on this release pending a forfeiture action.

Does a Forfeiture Proceeding have to wait Until a Criminal Case is Over?

As a skilled attorney in Newnan could further explain, a judge can postpone asset forfeiture proceedings during a criminal case if the property owner or the prosecutor can provide a good reason.

Burdens of Proof and Presumptions

The prosecutors must prove only that it is more likely than not that the property seized is subject to forfeiture. This is much lower than standard than to convict someone of a crime.

Unfortunately, sometimes property is seized and a forfeiture notice is filed even though the owner of the property was actually uninvolved in everything that led to the forfeiture.

The property will not be forfeited if the owner can show that:

  • The owner is not privy to the criminal conduct
  • The owner did not consent to the conduct
  • The owner did not know about the conduct
  • The owner did not know the conduct was likely to occur
  • The owner should not have reasonably known the conduct was likely to occur.
  • The owner did not acquire and was not going to acquire substantial proceeds from the conduct
  • With respect to conveyances for transportation only, the owner did not hold the property in conjunction with another person whose conduct gave rise to the forfeiture.
  • If the owner can show that they do not have the property for the benefit of someone whose conduct gave rise to the forfeiture and if the owner received the property from the person whose conduct led to the forfeiture they have to show they obtained the property in a legitimate way; and
  • The owner can show they gained an interest in the property

To effectively avoid asset forfeiture, you need an attorney in Newnan who can fight on your behalf and provide proper evidence.

A Newnan Asset Forfeiture Attorney Can Help You

If your property was taken from you, you deserve to have the chance to get it back. However, you should proceed only if you have skilled legal counsel on your side. A Newnan asset forfeiture lawyer is standing by and ready to assist you. Call to schedule a consultation with the firm today.