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Police can seize property if they suspect drug crimes

Being arrested is a frightening experience. Texas defendants may be unaware of the process or their rights, or how police officers handle civil forfeiture when dealing with things like drug charges. Here are a few things that defendants might want to know about how civil forfeiture works and their options for addressing their related criminal charges.

In Texas, police officers are able to seize property through civil forfeiture if they believe the property is associated with a crime. This practice is surprisingly common. One notable example happened in Jan. 2016, when police seized $955 because they thought a man was selling prescription painkillers. He was arrested and charged, but those charges were later dropped when it became evident that he had a prescription. His money was never returned.

In 2016, there were more than 560 instances of civil forfeiture. Police seized approximately $10 million and around 100 vehicles. Other types of property were also seized, including things like watches, jewelry and televisions. Around two out of five instances of forfeiture began with traffic stops, and most were related to allegations of minor drug possessions. Only around 40% of people fought the seizure of their property in court.

Losing property in addition to being criminally charged can make a bad situation seem even worse. When drug crimes charges are involved the consequences may be even more pronounced because on top of possible jail time and related fines, defendants may also lose a significant amount of their personal money through civil forfeiture. Fighting both these charges and the forfeiture of property is possible, but the process can be confusing. Speaking with an attorney who is experienced in these types of issues may provide clarity for Texas defendants.

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John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
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Houston, Texas 77056

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