Seizure and Forfeiture Proceedings in Arizona
Though it might seem like something out of a movie, the truth is it is possible for Arizona felony prosecutors to drive around town in a swanky car previously owned by a drug dealer. Most people are shocked to learn felony prosecutors in Arizona are empowered to use forfeited and seized vehicles to drive to and from court to prosecute other individuals.
As time progresses, people are starting to question whether it is morally sound for prosecutors, police and government officials to take the automobiles, money, homes, phones and computers of supposed criminals. Furthermore, people are starting to question whether government workers and police should be permitted to keep these items, sell them at auction or sell them to county prosecutors at a fraction of their actual value.
The Basics of Forfeiture Proceedings
Imagine a situation in which you are coasting along the highway only to be pulled over for driving a couple miles per hour over the speed limit. The police officer who pulls you over states he detects the odor of marijuana. You are subsequently arrested. Your vehicle is searched. The police find marijuana packaged up in the trunk of your vehicle. You are then taken to jail. Your automobile is impounded.
Fast forward a couple days and you are served with a Notice of Pending Forfeiture. This civil legal pleading states the state of Arizona will not give your vehicle back to you. Nor will your cash, phone or other items be returned. This is precisely why you need a forfeiture attorney in your corner. Keep in mind, if you do not respond to the court within a specific window of time, your property will not be returned at any point in the future.
Forfeiture cases are civil cases as opposed to criminal cases. In short, this is a lawsuit rather than a criminal charge in spite of the fact that it is tied to felony allegations. The sad truth is the state of Arizona is looking to make money while sending you to prison. This is accomplished with the seizure of your property and its subsequent sale.
Do not go Down Without a Fight
If you find yourself in a situation similar to the one described above, it is in your interest to lean on an attorney for legal guidance. Your attorney will zealously advocate on your behalf to safeguard your freedom and ensure you do not end up in prison. Your attorney will review the unique facts of your case to defend against forfeiture seizures. This is the legal fight necessary to ensure you keep all of your belongings, retain your property and continue to enjoy a decent quality of life.
After all, the last thing you want to see is a prosecutor or police officer riding around town in your sweet ride, using your phone and possibly even your personal computing device. Even more salt would be added to this gaping wound if the prosecutor or police officer used your own money for the purposes of investigating additional cases and imprisoning other Arizonans, many of whom might actually be innocent.
Forfeiture Proceedings are Unique
Forfeiture proceedings have their own idiosyncratic set of rules. In particular, the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure along with additional forfeiture statues in the Arizona Revised Statutes are applicable to such proceedings. The language of these rules and statutes are egregiously complex. This is precisely why you need an experience criminal defense attorney to spearhead your quest for justice by creating a sound civil forfeiture legal defense.