Ask the Law Librarian – Claim opposing forfeiture
When my boyfriend was arrested a few days ago, he had almost $900 of my money in his wallet. The cops took the money because they think he got it from selling drugs. Really, it was my money that he was taking to pay some bills for me. I need my money back. They said I could file something, but I’m not sure what.
It sounds like your money has been taken in a process commonly called “asset forfeiture.” Under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11469-11495, law enforcement agencies can seize property, including money, they believe is connected to the sale and manufacture of controlled substances.
When money is seized in this type of procedure, all interested parties (the property’s owner(s)) must be notified. An interested party has 30 days to file a Claim Opposing Forfeiture. The person opposing the forfeiture must file papers with the court, and have the papers served on the prosecuting agency, usually the District Attorney. The Law Library has a step-by-step guide for completing the forms you will need to oppose the forfeiture. The guide is available online at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/opposing-forfeiture.aspx.
If a Claim Opposing Forfeiture is filed on time, the prosecuting agency has 30 days from receiving your claim to file a petition with the court for judicial forfeiture. If they prosecuting agency doesn’t file with the court in time, it loses the right to maintain custody of the seized property. Once the District Attorney starts the judicial forfeiture case, they will usually start pretrial discovery in accordance with standard civil procedure. You will most likely be asked to produce documents that prove that you are the legal owner of the money, and how you obtained the money, such as copies of bank statements or paychecks.
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