Asset forfeiture laws in Utah allow law enforcement to seize property if they have cause to believe it’s connected to a crime. Some officers may take advantage of this loose definition and seize property for unjust reasons. The most common scenario is an officer taking a small amount of cash or a vehicle during a traffic stop. According to Utah law, you don’t have to be charged of a crime for an officer to take your property.
You may be wondering what the difference is between asset seizure and asset forfeiture. While the two are similar, there are some important distinctions you should know.
Asset Seizure: This is when law enforcement takes your property (money, vehicle, etc.) if they have probable cause to believe it is involved in criminal activity. When they seize your property, the ownership is only temporarily transferred to law enforcement.
Asset Forfeiture: This is the result of a legal proceeding following an asset seizure. If a prosecutor decides to pursue forfeiture in a criminal case following the seizure of your property, that means they will try to permanently transfer property ownership away from you and over to the state or federal government.
Traffic stops are the most common scenario. This applies both to in-state and out-of-state motorists. You may be pulled over for a minor traffic offense, such as speeding or not using a turn signal, and an officer can then use the alleged violation to conduct a full-scale search.
Remember Your Rights
If you find yourself in this situation, the first thing to remember is you have rights. While the officer may use intimidation, drug dogs, or the threat of prosecution to seize your property, don’t let them scare you into just walking away. Even if you sign over your property under threat of arrest, you can still get it back.
Most people never contest the seizure because they don’t think they can get their property back. Even if you are from out of state, you can fight for your rights—often without coming back to Utah.
If your property was seized, don’t delay the process of retrieving it. One reason people fail to retrieve property is because they miss a filing deadline. If that happens, you could lose your chance to get your property back. This is why it helps to have an experienced Utah attorney on your side.
Find An Experienced Attorney
An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process, whether or not you have been charged with a crime. If you call the attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw, and Moffat, our team will provide you with a free, strictly confidential initial consultation. All information is protected by attorney-client privilege. You can learn your rights without any risk.
Our experienced legal team at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP in Salt Lake City, Utah, will have your back in any asset forfeiture case. We will be just as aggressive defending your case as law enforcement was when they seized your property.
We handle many cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay only when the property is recovered. We will do everything we can to get the cost of attorney fees awarded on top of the returned property.
Call us today at (801) 532-5297 to discuss your case and begin the process of getting your personal property returned.
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