The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act
Florida Law, under Statutes 932.701 to 932.706, allows law enforcement to seize the property of individuals. The property may be classified as “contraband” and may be illegal on its face. The property may be considered to be an instrumentality of the criminal offense such as a car used to drive to drug transactions or a yacht used to haul the drugs in from offshore. A four wheeler used to go out into the woods and check on a marijuana grow would be in this category as would any tractors used to keep up with the grow property. The laws under this statute also state that an individual may forfeit any property that are the proceeds of criminal activity. The auction in Jacksonville, Florida, scheduled for May 15, has vehicles, watches, gold jewelry and fancy automotive rims. The person forfeiting the property may contest the seizure in a civil proceeding which pits the property owner against the local police department’s forfeiture division accompanied by an attorney from the State Attorneys Office. All that is needed to be shown by the seizing authority is probable cause that the property is either contraband, an instrumentality of a crime, or the byproduct or fruits of a crime.
“Most of the Items This Round Are From Narcotic Seizures”
Those are the words of JSO Lt. Ray Beltz as quoted by News4Jax.com. What is not hitting this governmental auction block is any cash or currency which is usually the first item seized by drug unit officers. Additionally, the authorities typically only seize vehicles that have clear titles, ie, the vehicle is free and clear, no payments to worry about. Narcotic officers will often run “reverse stings” where the officers pose as drug sellers, actually flashing huge amounts of drugs (seized in prior cases and signed out of property rooms for particular stings) luring a drug buyer to come forward with a huge amount of soon to be seized cash. The cash amounts seized in this fashion are always a prearranged goal second to the arrest and conviction of the drug traffficker. Subsequently, there is no need for a time consuming auction. No vehicle storage or exchange of titles getting in the way. The motto “Cash is King” works for law enforcement also. A person forfeiting property or having property seized does not actually have to ever end up being a defendant. Aside from prearranged drug transactions, officers will often bring a narcotics dog to a traffic stop where a person has plenty of cash on hand, or cash found in what officers call a “drug roll” or “drug folds.” The dog will usually alert to traces of illegal drugs on the currency and it will be seized. North Florida has no shortage of drug crimes. The illegality of narcotics has always kept habits expensive for addicts and kept prices high. The high prices entice folks to take a chance at these illegal profits. Those who endeavor in the drug trade suffer huge penalties under Florida Law. There can be minimum mandatory sentencing restrictions on sentencing judges. Besides the property seizure and forfeiture mentioned above, drug crimes can bring fines so hefty, once the person is out of prison, he or she is financially ruined with a civil judgment (like you have been sued and lost) that demolishes credit. Anyone arrested, or facing potential arrest, for a drug crime in Jacksonville or North Florida should at a minimum, consult with an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney. The Forbess Law Firm has represented hundreds of defendants in Jacksonville, Clay County and Nassau County drug crimes. Our firm has always offered a no cost, no obligation consultation or jail visit. We can be reached at 904-634-0900.