Criminal Forfeiture of Cash Seized in Search Overturned

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals overturned a criminal forfeiture of cash which had been seized during the search of an apartment.  According to the City of Birmingham, the cash was then turned over to federal authorities as part of a criminal forfeiture process known as “adoptive seizure.”  In the context of a criminal forfeiture, adoptive seizure occurs when local authorities determine that it would be to their advantage to transfer a forfeiture proceeding to federal authorities in order for federal authorities to use the federal process of forfeiture.  To do this, the local law enforcement agency must file a request with federal authorities. In this case, it appears that the City of Birmingham failed to file the necessary request with the federal authorities. Because of this, the Appellate Court held that the City of Birmingham had failed to present sufficient evidence that the federal court had obtained jurisdiction over the money seized in the criminal  forfeiture. The City of Birmingham was ordered to pay the money and interest back to the claiming party, and amount totaling $46,604.15.

Under state and federal forfeiture laws, law enforcement authorities may attempt to formally seize property by forfeiture if it is connected with illegal activity. Certain strict rules and deadlines apply to criminal forfeiture proceedings, both the state and federal courts, and the rules are strictly enforced.

City of Birmingham v. Alexander – Civil Appeals Number 2120188  Released 7/19/13

If your property has been seized and subjected to criminal forfeiture proceedings, do not delay in seeking legal advice from an Alabama criminal defense lawyer. Many times your property can be released if you act promptly, present sufficient evidence of ownership, and challenge the state’s evidence that the property is connected to illegal activity.

 The lawyers at Bradford Ladner LLP can assist you in challenging criminal forfeitures.

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