Can the government take my property if I’m accused of a crime?

Police Arresting a Young ManPolice officers may take your property after you are arrested for some crimes in Virginia. However, they must follow specific legal procedures to keep your property after it is taken. The government cannot keep your property without due process of law.

The Government May Take Property After Certain Arrests

In Virginia, the police may take money, computers, cell phones, cars, and other forms of property if they reasonably believe that the property is connected to one of the following crimes:

After the police seize your property, the government must begin a civil forfeiture case to keep the property. Otherwise, the government will violate your state and federal constitutional rights.

Civil Forfeiture Cases

If the government wants to keep and sell your property, then:

  • The prosecutor must file a Notice of Forfeiture in court. Forfeiture proceedings are separate court proceedings from your criminal case.
     
  • You will be served with notice that a forfeiture proceeding has begun. Typically, you have a short amount of time to respond to the proceeding.
     
  • A court hearing will be held. The court will decide whether the government can keep the property it took. It is up to the prosecutor to present clear and convincing evidence to the court that you used or earned the property because of criminal activity.

Make Sure All of Your Constitutional Rights are Protected

You’ve been arrested, not convicted, for allegedly committing a crime. Now is the time to make sure that all of your legal rights are protected so that you don’t pay for a crime that you did not commit.

Civil forfeiture is likely just one of your concerns. You may also face significant jail time and fines. If you are ready to talk about your defense and to take steps to secure your future, please contact our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your defense.