In certain situations, an individual’s property can be seized by law enforcement and is subject to being forfeited to the State of Tennessee. Typically seizures connected to criminal proceedings occur incident to an arrest or a search warrant, and fit into the following categories:
- Second or subsequent DUI stop
- Driving on a license revoked due to a prior DUI
- Any items believed to be associated with the proceeds or sale of narcotics
Items typically seized include the following:
- Personal property such as: computers, televisions, etc.
Once your property has been seized, you should receive a Seizure Notice from the agents who confiscated the property. The Department of Safety will not physically store or control the property, it will stay in the possession of the law enforcement agency who seized it. However, this property is now under the jurisdiction of the administrative procedures of the Tennessee Department of Safety, which is a completely separate proceeding from any criminal proceeding.
If you are not a listed owner of the property which was seized, you can still file a claim on the property, but you may be required to prove your claim to the property through paperwork or other means.
It is extremely important that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible after a seizure occurs. You should contact an attorney who has experience with these matters, as the process for properly claiming property and getting it returned is incredibly specific and time sensitive.
It is important to know that your property is subject to being forfeited and kept by the seizing agency even if you are not convicted in a court of law. The standard that applies to seizure hearings is much lower than the standard in a court of law, and the proceedings are ruled by administrative law. You absolutely need representation by an attorney who regularly represents clients in proceedings with the Tennessee Department of Safety, as the Tennessee Department of Safety will be represented by a prosecuting attorney whose goal is to keep your property.
The attorneys at Peterson White regularly represent clients in seizure proceedings and are successful in claims and negotiations. Call us at Peterson White if your property has been seized, we will ensure that your rights are protected not only in a court of law, but also in any seizure matters as well.