Under the civil forfeiture law in Virginia, the police have the right to seize and sell property that they believe is associated with certain crimes, such as money laundering, drug crimes, and gun offenses. The police have the right to keep cars, cash, real estate, guns, and other property of the accused—and other individuals not charged with any crime—if they believe that the property was linked to criminal activities. However, you may have a right to get your property back if it was taken when someone else was arrested, and you were not a suspect.
What You Must Show in Order to Have Your Property Returned
In order to keep your property, the police would have to file a civil forfeiture action, which is a civil court proceeding, and obtain court permission to keep and sell your property. You have the right to have your property returned if you can show that you are the innocent owner of it. You would need to establish the following:
- You did not know of and had no reason to know of the criminal conduct that resulted in the seizure of the property.
- You were a bona fide purchaser, which is someone who purchased the property without any knowledge of any problem with the seller’s ownership of the property.
- The criminal conduct that led to the police taking the property was done without your knowledge or consent.
- You are a landlord, and your property was seized due to the criminal actions of your tenant, which you did not know of or have reason to know of.
What You Need to Do to Get Your Property Back
If your property was seized by the police and you were not considered a suspect, your first step should be to contact an experienced civil forfeiture lawyer as soon as possible. He can contact the police or prosecutor for you and may be able to convince them that you are innocent and that your property should be returned to you. If this is not possible, he can represent you in the civil forfeiture action and prove that the police do not have a right to keep your property.
Was your property seized by the police? Our legal team is here to answer your questions and fight to have it returned to you. To get started, call our Manassas office to schedule your free consultation today.