Under Arizona law, a person’s property may be seized for forfeiture by a peace officer. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-4305(a) “Property subject to forfeiture under this chapter may be seized for forfeiture by a peace officer: (1) On process issued pursuant to the rules of civil procedure or the provisions of this title including a seizure warrant; (2) By making a seizure for forfeiture on property seized on process issued pursuant to law; (3) By making a seizure for forfeiture without court process if any of the following is true: (a) The seizure for forfeiture is of property seized incident to an arrest or search; (b) The property subject to seizure for forfeiture has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of this state or any other state or the federal government in a forfeiture proceeding; (c) The peace officer has probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture. In other words, the government may be entitled to take your property if the property was used to commit crimes or was purchased with money that was earned through the course of committing a crime. Property, however, cannot be seized without proper notice.
There are, however, exceptions. For example, even if the property is seized during the course of a search or an arrest, if the property seized belonged to a person who was not a consenting party or was not in privy or did not have any reason to know that the property was being used illegally, the owner may have valid defense to the forfeiture. Additionally, if for example the property seized was a vehicle used to transport drugs, the vehicle may not be seized if the amount of drugs did not exceed the threshold.
Forfeiture is a fact intensive legal proceeding, which requires a knowledgeable attorney to develop a strategic plan of action. Contact Dow Law Office to discuss your civil forfeiture matter today.