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Can the police seize your money without a criminal conviction?

| Jun 25, 2021 | Criminal Justice |

You might expect that police in New Jersey will seize your possessions that they feel are connected to an alleged crime. It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that money seized from those accused of crimes in New Jersey are sometimes used to pay for police programs. In fact, one legal group claims that New Jersey’s seizure activities, known as civil forfeiture, often violates citizens’ due process rights.

What is civil forfeiture?

It is not uncommon for police to retain contraband or illegally-obtained goods seized from those in New Jersey who have been convicted of a crime. However, police in New Jersey are also permitted to seize money, electronics and luxury vehicles through the civil forfeiture process even if a person has not been convicted of a crime. This can lead to funds seized solely on suspicion. Unfortunately, the victims of civil forfeiture can face an expensive legal fight to recover what they are owed.

What is the problem with civil forfeiture?

Police may claim that they need to exercise civil forfeiture as a deterrent to further crimes. In addition, they may claim that civil forfeiture serves as a stream of revenue for their agencies. However, some experts claim that civil forfeiture actions violate a person’s due process rights. The transparency of civil forfeiture in New Jersey is especially poor making it difficult for anyone to know what is happening in the state.

Learn more about your civil rights

It is important that anyone accused of a crime is not unduly subject to civil forfeiture, especially if they have done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, contesting civil forfeiture in New Jersey can be an uphill battle. This post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s website on criminal defense may be a useful resource for those who want to learn more about their rights and options.