What Is Civil Forfeiture?
Have you been served with a notice of forfeiture following an arrest or an encounter with law enforcement in DeKalb County? Did the police take your money or property even though they didn’t ticket or arrest you?
Georgia is known nationwide for having the worst civil forfeiture laws in the United States. Police departments and prosecuting attorneys are routinely filing notices of forfeiture with blatant disregard for civil liberties and personal property rights. Elected district attorneys participate in this behavior in a thinly veiled effort to bring money into cash strapped jurisdictions any way they can. While the law in Georgia does allow forfeiture of possessions and cash in very specific and particular circumstances, the process is being abused and turned into a quick way for police and prosecutors to bully people and take their property. Police in Georgia are routinely seizing cash without even making an arrest or issuing a citation! Officers can stop you, search you, find a large amount of cash, and simply take it from you! In fact, they are doing it every day of the week!
What To Do If You Receive A Civil Forfeiture Notice
If you have been served with a notice of forfeiture, you must act quickly to preserve your right to a hearing on the matter. There are two types of forfeiture actions, procedurally, and each of them requires a particular and timely response. For forfeiture actions involving money or property valued at over $25,000.00, the state must file a civil lawsuit, which means that you have 30 days to file an answer or face a default judgment. For forfeiture actions involving money or property valued at less than $25,000, the state must proceed through a process known as administrative forfeiture, which involves running ads in local newspapers publishing the intent to forfeit. The state must run the ad for three weeks; you have to reply within 30 days of the second publication date or face a default judgment.
Once you answer the forfeiture complaint, the court must timely set a hearing for argument on the matter. In almost every case, the state gives up as soon as you file any kind of answer. They don’t want to have a hearing! The burden is on the state to show cause why forfeiture is appropriate and supported by law. In most cases, the state has filed for forfeiture when it is not, in fact, supported by law. The state files for forfeiture hoping you simply won’t respond.
Preserve Your Assets — Contact Us For Aggressive Representation
If you have received a notice of forfeiture following an arrest or an encounter with law enforcement in DeKalb County, we will respond aggressively on your behalf. The overwhelming majority of the forfeitures filed are without merit. The state seeks forfeiture out of greed, but they give up out of laziness and the knowledge that they can’t win a hearing on the matter. They are counting on you being too frightened to fight them. If you give them a default judgment by failing to respond, then they win even though they are wrong! Call us for a free initial consultation at 404-919-7096.