Can the police take my stuff? It is frustrating and frightening to have the government take your things. You may not understand why. And you may not understand your rights here.
You’re arrested for a Driving with License Canceled/Suspended or Revoked on your motorcycle. Suddenly the police officer calls a tow truck to haul your bike away. As your cuffed in the back of the car he tells you that your bike is being seized and won’t ever be returned to you. What’s that about?
If you have property possibly tied to illegal activity, you may face asset forfeiture – either criminally or civilly. Any property tied to either commission of the crime or proceeds from the crime could be taken by the government.
Before 2016 non-monetary items could be seized even if the person wasn’t convicted – the property could be seized just upon the person being charged. And now a court must review whether there was a reasonable cause for the seizure. This review must come within 10 days and seized property must be returned within 5 days if there wasn’t a reasonable cause.
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was used illicitly.