What happens after you receive a notice of seizure from the Broward County Sheriff's Office? After you recieve the notice of seizure you should retain an attorney to immediately demand an adversarial preliminary haering to contest the forfeiture of the seized property. This demand should be made at the first possible opportunity and must be made within 15 days, or you waive your right to this important hearing.
Your attorney can also preserve any surveillance video of your detention or seizure of the property (if any exists). Your attorney can contact the legal department of the forfeiture section of the Broward County Sheriff's Office to demand an adversarial preliminary hearing and notify the evidence unit that you are contesting the forfeiture.
Many of these seizures involve more than $10,000 in cash (U.S. currency) taken during a roadside investigation or at the airport, train station, or a bus stop. The Sheriff's Office in Broward County has recently started targeting people at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollyword International Airport.
Don't abandon your property. Instead, response quickly and appropriately after a seizure for forfeiture.
If your property was seized for forfeiture by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, a local police department, or a federal agency, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. We fight asset forfeiture cases aggressively through South Florida, including in Broward County. We also represent clients in asset forfeiture proceedings in Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County.
Send us a copy of your notice of seizure and any property receipt related to the forfeiture hold and we can help. Call (561) 557-8686 today to discuss the case.
If you received a notice of seizure from the Broward County Sheriff's Office, it provides notice pursuant to Section 932.701 et. seq., Fla. Stat. (2018), that the property described above was seize for forfeiture by the Broward County Sheriff's Office on the date and under the case number stated.
The notice tells you that the forfeiture action is pending and all potential claimants who have a legal interest in the subject property may request an adversarial preliminary hearing. Although the letter claims that "it is not necessary to request an adversarial preliminary hearing" if you want the property back in a timely manner there is NO reason not to demand the hearing. In fact, in many ways, the adversarial preliminary hearing is the most important part of the case.
The notices are carefully worded to discourage you from demanding the adversarial preliminary hearing within 15 days after you receive notice. But don't fall for it. Hire an attorney to make the demand immediately.
If you demand an adversarial hearing, it must be done so in writing and send by cettified mail, return receipt requested within 15 calendar days of receipt of the notice. We also fax over a copy of the demand so that the sheriff's office will acknowledge receipt immediately.
If you don't send the request in writing, then you forever waive your right to the adversarial preliminary hearing and you will have to potentially wait longer. In fact, if you waive your rights to the adversarial preliminary hearing, you might have to wait until a motion for summary judgment is decided or even for a trial, both of which come with greater expense.
The notice will tell you where the demand for the adversarial preliminary hearing should be send. Many of the notices list the following address:Legal Dept. - Forfeiture Section
The letter says that even if you choose not to request an adversarial preliminary haering that you will still be notified of all future court dates concerning the above referenced property and have the opportunity to contest the forefeiture. But there is never a good reason to choose not to demand the adversarial preliminary hearing.
When you contact our office, send us a copy of your notice of seizure. We also need a copy of any property receipt that you received which is usually marked "forfeiture hold."
The property receive form issued by the Broward County Sheriff's Office provides a place for your signature and provides as follows:
I hereby acknowledge the above list represents all the proeprty taken from my possession and that if my property is taken and listed as Prisoner Propery or Safekeeping I must contact the Broward County Sheriff's Office Evidence Unit within 60 days of seizure. If I do not make contact within 60 days all my items will be considered abandoned and disposed of pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 705. Evidence unit can be contact at 954-765-4351.
Instead of just calling the evience unit, you should also have your attorney send them written notice via return receipt requested and get them to acknowledge in writting that they received your request. You can also make a public record request for your request, just to make sure they have to acknowledge recieving it.
This article was last updated on March 1, 2019.