If a law enforcement officer seized your assets and provided you notice of forfeiture, then you should act quickly. The best way to get your money, vehicle or other property back is to IMMEDIATELY demand an Adversarial Preliminary Hearing within 15 days. If you wait too long, then you waive your rights to an Adversarial Preliminary Hearing.
At the adversarial preliminary hearing, the law enforcement agency that seized the asset is required to establish probable cause that the vehicle “was used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.” § 932.701(2)(f).
Call the criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to discuss your case and the best way to fight to get your assets back.
In the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, Administrative Order Number 3.501-9/08 addresses the procedures for asset forfeiture proceedings. The Administrative Order was signed in Chambers at West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, in September of 2008. One of the best ways to under the procedures in an asset forfeiture case in West Palm Beach or Palm Beach County is to read the administrative orders.
Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, Section 932.701-932.707, Florida Statutes ("the Act"), law enforcement officers in Palm Beach County can attempt to seize and forfeit personal property including cash and vehicles.
The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act gives persons who own, possess, or otherwise have a claim to the seized property to demand and be heard at an adversarial preliminary hearing.
The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act refers to proceedings involving the Court, the Office of the Clerk of Courts, the seizing agency, and others in the forfeiture process for whom it is necessary to have a uniform procedure throughout the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County. The procedures were created in order to implement the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act fairly for all.
The courts, pursuant to the authority conferred by Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215, created several administrative orders to set up procedures for forfeiture proceedings. The procedures set forth in the administrative orders are followed whenever property has been seized or is the subject of an application for seizure under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.
Prior to the seizure of personal property pursuant to the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act in Palm Beach County, the seizing agency may apply to the Court for authorization to effect such seizure. See D.L.E. v. Real Property, 588 So.2d 957 (Fla. 1991).
The seizing agency must complete an original and two copies of the motion for seizure form which is attached to this order, bringing them to the Duty Judge of the Court for review and execution of a seizure warrant in the same manner as an application for a search warrant.
The original seizure warrant shall be filed with the Clerk in Palm Beach County, one copy shall be kept by the seizing agency and one copy shall be given to the person from whom the property is seized or left at the place of seizure if no person is present, in a manner similar to that used in the execution of a search warrant.
Upon the filing of the Notice of Forfeiture, Complaint, Seizure Warrant or Lis Pendens by the seizing agency, the Clerk shall collect from the seizing agency any required filing fee and assign the forfeiture matter a case number from the Civil Division of the Circuit Court in and for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.
The Clerk shall randomly assign the forfeiture case under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act to one of the Judges of the Civil Division.
Upon the receipt of any request in writing, delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested, and in compliance with Florida Statutes $932.703(2)(a), the seizing agency shall file notice of forfeiture (see "Case Filing" above) and request from the court a hearing date by contacting the appropriate division.
An adversarial preliminary hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) days of the date the request for such a hearing or as soon as practical thereafter (see ?932.703(2)(a), Florida Statutes).
Notice of the time, date, and place of the adversarial preliminary hearing shall be mailed by the seizing organization to every "person entitled to receive notice" under the Act (see ?932.702(2)(e), Florida Statutes), regardless of whether the person filed a request for an adversarial preliminary hearing.
An adversarial preliminary hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (see ?932.703(2)(c) and (d)).
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA, IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY
FORFEITURE OF REQUEST FOR ADVERSARIAL PRELIMINARY HEARING
The undersigned, in accordance with the requirements of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, Sections 932.701-932.707, Florida Statutes, Chapter 92-54, Laws of Florida, does hereby file this request for an adversarial preliminary hearing in this matter.
I hereby request that such hearing be scheduled within ten (10) days of the date of this request.
It is requested that such a hearing be scheduled within ten (10) days of the date that this request is filed and that notice of the time, date and place of such hearing be mailed to the undersigned at the address given below as soon as possible. Respectfully submitted,
PLEASE PRINT LEGIBLY ALL INFORMATION REQUESTED BELOW.
Name of Business, if applicable
Mailing Address ______________________
Zip Code ______________________
Telephone Number: ______________________
MOTION FOR FORFEITURE SEIZURE WARRANT
THE FORFEITURE OF:
Petitioner, _________________________, by and through the undersigned counsel, requests this Court sign and issue a seizure warrant for the following property: (describe property), based on the affidavit attached as Exhibit "1". Dated this day of __________, 2016.
(Name and Address of Attorney for Seizing Agency)
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA
THE FORFEITURE OF:
(Identify property to be seized. If the property is a motor vehicle, provide license tag and vin number.)
STATE OF FLORIDA - PALM BEACH COUNTY
I, ____________________________, state that I am an employee of (name of seizing agency), Palm Beach County, Florida, and that the following facts are true and correct. (type out the reasons for probable cause for the seizure).
Further Affiant sayeth naught.
DATED this day of _________, 2016.
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this day of , 20 , by who is personally known to me or produced identification.
NOTARY PUBLIC, State of Florida My Commission expires:
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF FLORIDA, IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY
(Name of Seizing Agency)
(Defendant's name if known)(if unknown, describe property)
FORFEITURE SEIZURE WARRANT
TO ALL AND SINGULAR SHERIFFS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA GREETINGS:
The undersigned Judge of the (Circuit) (County) Court in and for Palm Beach County,Florida, having reviewed the motion for forfeiture and supporting affidavit finds that proble cause exists to seize the following described property: (describe property)
YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to take into your possession and control wherever it may be found, the above described property and turn it over to (name of seizing agency), who shall keep it safe and secure for the proceedings before this Court pursuant to the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, F.S.S. 932.701-707.
DONE AND ORDERED in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, on this ___ day of ______, 2016.
Florida Just Made It Harder For Police To Take People’s Stuff - The article explains a new bill that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law to enacting major reforms of a practice that has allowed police to permanently seize people’s property without a conviction or even charging the owner with a crime. The new law that took effect on July 1, 2016, requires law enforcement officials to arrest suspects before seizing most property using civil asset forfeiture. And the seizing agency will have to pay a $1,000 filing fee to take the property and put up a $1,500 bond, which will go to the owner should he or she be found innocent.
Florida Statute 932.703 on Forfeiture of Contraband Article - Visit the website of the Florida legislature under Title XLVII under Chapter 932 regarding provisions supplemental to criminal procedure law. Florida Statute Section 932.703 explains the forfeiture of contraband article and exceptions.
This article was last updated on Friday, October 14, 2016.