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What Is the Asset Forfeiture Process in Tennessee?

Posted on in Asset Forfeiture

Union County asset seizure attorney

If someone commits a crime and is convicted of that crime, he or she will face legal consequences. Depending on the severity of the offense, the penalties can consist of large fines or prison time. Law enforcement also utilizes another consequence known as property seizure or asset forfeiture. Property or assets can include vehicles, money, real estate property, and other miscellaneous items. There are various situations that warrant asset forfeiture, and the process is more complicated than simply taking an item from someone.

Why Is Property Seized?

The purpose of property seizure is to take away assets that were obtained through illegal means. This allows law enforcement to remove the proceeds of alleged criminals’ unlawful enterprises, and the seized assets are often used to help fund law enforcement’s future efforts. According to Tennessee legislation, property can be seized if someone is suspected of possessing narcotics (prescription or illegal). Vehicles may also be seized if someone is charged with various driving offenses, including driving on a license that has been revoked for driving under the influence (DUI) and for a second or subsequent DUI offense that occurred within a five-year period. 

Appealing a Forfeiture Warrant

Asset forfeiture is considered questionable by many lawmakers, since the confiscation process happens at the scene of the alleged crime, usually during an arrest. After taking the property, there is a process that goes on behind the scenes, sometimes allowing for appeals of forfeiture warrants. At the time of confiscation, the law enforcement officer must complete a Notice of Property Seizure and Forfeiture of Conveyances form. This documents the situation for the government and the “offender.” The officer will first give the receipt to the individual to act as proof of the confiscation. Afterward, the Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture Warrant must be reviewed by a local judge to show probable cause for the seizure. If probable cause is found, the judge will sign the warrant.

A person who has had his or her property seized can submit an appeal of the warrant within 10 days of its issuance. An appeal hearing will be conducted by the General Sessions Court to review the warrant and decide if it is based on probable cause or not. If the judge issues the Forfeiture Warrant, determining it is complete with probable cause, the state must notify any person who has an interest in the seized property. Getting the property returned requires the property owner to file a petition to return the property within 30 days of the state’s notice. A hearing will be scheduled to determine the fate of the seized property.

Contact a Knox County Asset Forfeiture Attorney 

Having your property taken from you can be frustrating and humiliating, especially if the situation does not warrant it. This legal consequence has been contested for years due to its severity and the lack of adequate evidence that is needed before assets can be confiscated. At the law firm of Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney, we have experience defending those who have lost property at the hands of law enforcement. If you need help recovering seized assets, contact our Knoxville, TN asset seizure and forfeiture lawyers at 865-281-1000 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://tennesseestar.com/2019/03/18/civil-asset-forfeiture-reform-continues-to-receive-resistance-in-tennessee/ 

https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/safety/tnhp/forfeit.html#property 

 

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