If you are charged with committing a crime in Virginia, you face stiff penalties if you are convicted, such as a lengthy jail or prison sentence and large fines, as well as a permanent criminal record and other long-term consequences. In addition, the police could seize your property under Virginia’s civil forfeiture laws when they arrest you. If you have had your property taken, you will need an experienced civil forfeiture attorney who can fight to have your property returned to you.
What Is Civil Forfeiture?
Civil forfeiture laws give the police the right to seize the property of individuals who are accused of committing a crime. However, law enforcement must bring a civil forfeiture action to have title to the property transferred to them. If the judge transfers ownership to them, they would have the right to sell the property and keep the proceeds.
Civil forfeiture proceedings are against the property that is seized and not its owner. A civil forfeiture action can be brought whether or not an individual is convicted of the crime that he was arrested for.
The civil forfeiture laws in our commonwealth permits the police to keep property associated with certain crimes. Offenses where civil forfeiture is allowed includes:
- Transportation of stolen property
- Money laundering
- Illegal gambling
- Exploitation of children
- Drug offenses
- Gun offenses
What Property Can Be Seized?
Law enforcement can take a wide-range of property if they believe that it is associated with criminal activity. Types of property they can seize include:
- Cars and other motor vehicles
- Houses and other real estate
- Computers and other electronic devices
- Cell phones
What Can You Do If the Police Take Your Property?
If law enforcement seizes your property and decides to keep it, they will need to file a separate civil action and serve you with the paperwork. You have the right to fight the civil forfeiture action in court.
Even if the criminal charges against you are dismissed, your property will not automatically be returned to you. You must show that it was not used in criminal activity or that you had no knowledge of the criminal activity, if your property is associated with it.
Our skilled legal team can aggressively fight to have your property returned to you. To learn more about how we can assist you, call The Wilson Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.