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Can the state take the property of those accused of drug crimes?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2023 | Drug Charges

Accusations of a drug offense can lead to numerous personal consequences. Police officers may arrest someone, and the state may charge them with a crime. If they plead guilty or get convicted in court for that offense, they could face significant penalties, such as jail time and large fines, in addition to having a lasting criminal record to worry about in the future.

All of those issues are certainly concerning, but adults implicated in some kind of drug incident also have to worry about losing their personal property. Georgia state law actually permits police officers to seize someone’s personal property if they believe it helps someone to commit a crime or if those assets are likely proceeds from criminal activity.

Unfortunately, that means that those who have been accused but never convicted of involvement in criminal drug activity could lose real property, vehicles, bank accounts and electronics, as well as other valuable property, even without being convicted of a crime.

Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture rules are easy to abuse

Some people refer to civil asset forfeiture as policing for profit. Officers may intentionally go after individuals with sizable assets simply to lay claim to that property and expand their department budgets. In other words, there’s an incentive to deprive people of their property and even of due process.

An individual does not need to get convicted of a crime to lose their property. The state doesn’t even need to charge them with an offense. Thankfully, there are at least rules that allow people to get their property back.

Going to court can help those affected

It is possible to go to court and request that the state return the assets seized from an individual through civil forfeiture. Typically, the person making the claim will require support with this complex process, as they will need to establish conclusively to the courts that illegal activity did not contribute to the purchase of those assets.

Many people find that having a lawyer assist them improves their chances of gathering the right evidence and also presenting a compelling case when they have their date in court. Learning more about civil asset forfeiture and other complications associated with criminal allegations, especially drug charges, can benefit those who have recently been deprived of their personal property.