What is Forfeiture?
“Forfeiture” is the process through which the government takes property that it claims is associated with criminal activity. Basically, when you’re pulled over, and the cops find a wad of $100 bills hidden under your seat, they might just hold on to it under the assumption that it’s “dirty.” That’s the essence of forfeiture. Unfortunately, forfeiture law often lets law enforcement agencies keep a portion (or all) of the money and property they seize, creating an incentive for them to get as much as possible. And there’s both “civil” and “criminal” versions of forfeiture, so the government can attempt to keep your property even if you’re never charged with a crime.
What is the Forfeiture Law in Utah?
In Utah, that law is codified in Utah Code 24-1-101 through 24-4-117. It’s dense reading. Probably the most juicy bit is in 24-4-102 “Property Subject to Forfeiture.” Under that chapter, “all property that has been used to facilitate the commission of a federal or state offense and any proceeds of criminal activity may be forfeited.” That’s a broad definition!
What Can I Do If a Utah Cop Took My Money or Property?
Forfeiture law is very complex. The government has to follow lots of rules to take your property from you, but you have to follow lots of rules to try and get it back. That’s why it’s very important to get the help of an attorney in the process. If you retain me to help you fight your Utah forfeiture case, I will work on contingency, meaning I will either get my attorneys fees paid by the government, or, if I help you get back some or all of your money, I use a percentage of that as my fee. If you don’t get your property back, I don’t get paid. Contact me to discuss your case.