Can You Lose Your Car If You’re Convicted of a Drug Crime?

If you’re alleged to have been involved in a drug crime, you can face more than incarceration and/or fines. You might also lose your vehicle through a process called forfeiture. If your car is forfeited, that means the government takes control of it. Once the government has your car, they can use it for official business or sell it and keep the proceeds for authorized expenditures.

Before your vehicle is forfeited, the prosecuting authority will notify you of the intent for such action. You then have a certain amount of time to respond to the notification and fight to prevent your property from being taken from you. Challenging a forfeiture action can be a long and complex process. Thus, it’s best to go through it with the help of an attorney.

At Brockton D. Hunter P.A., we fight to protect the rights and property of our clients. To schedule a consultation with a member of our Minneapolis team, please contact us at (612) 979-1112.

What Does Forfeiture Mean?

In matters involving controlled substances, police officers will seize any property, including vehicles, they believe were used to further the offense or purchased with proceeds from it. Seizure simply means that the property was taken from the owner; the possibility exists that it will be returned.

Property forfeiture is the next step after a seizure. It means that a court has determined that the property was associated with a drug crime, and the government now has control of it. The owner is not likely to see their property again.

The purpose of property forfeiture is to deprive those in criminal activity of the means to continue the conduct. It also serves to deter people from engaging in unlawful acts in the first place, as they might think twice if they know that they might lose their car or other valuables.

Can a Vehicle Be Subject to Forfeiture?

Minnesota statutes provide that personal property, including cars (what the law refers to as a conveyance device), may be subject to forfeiture if it were involved in a controlled substances offense. Involvement can include being obtained with the proceeds from the crime or used to transport the drugs. Additionally, a car may be forfeited only if the controlled substance were valued at $100 or more.

What Is the Forfeiture Process?

The government must follow certain rules before it can forfeit your property. The first thing that must be done is to provide you notice of the forfeiture action. The prosecutor must send you and any other party with interest in the vehicle written notification within 30 days of the property being seized.

After you receive the notice, you have 60 days to initiate a lawsuit to challenge the forfeiture. If you fail to meet the deadline, your car will be automatically forfeited.

You will be scheduled for a hearing to present your arguments in court. At the proceedings, you reiterate your interest in the property and why you believe law enforcement officials improperly seized it.

The forfeiture hearing is separate from any criminal proceedings related to your drug crime case. However, when it comes to forfeiting personal property associated with a controlled substance offense, action can only be taken if you were convicted.

A conviction includes:

  • Admitting guilt,
  • Receiving a guilty verdict,
  • Being granted a stay of adjudication, or
  • Being referred to a deferment program.

What Happens to Forfeited Property?

Property found to have been used for or derived from a drug offense comes under the government’s control. Several things can happen to it.

Specifically concerning a vehicle, the court can order that the law enforcement agency:

  • Sell it. The proceeds from the sale will go to:
    • The law enforcement agency’s supplemental funds for training, education, crime prevention, and equipment;
    • The prosecutorial agency’s operating funds for training, education, crime prevention, and equipment; and
    • The state’s treasury office.
  • Keep it. If the law enforcement agency keeps the car, it can only use it for official purposes.

Contact Our Firm Today

If you’ve received notice that your car may be subject to forfeiture, hire an attorney right away. You only have a few weeks to respond and fight to keep your property.

Our attorneys provide aggressive legal representation in Minneapolis. Discuss your case with Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form today.