Under the Missouri Civil Asset Forfeiture Act (CAFA), any property that is used in or derived from criminal activity may be forfeited. Seems reasonable, right? However, this broad language has facilitated the seizure of a wide variety of property from individuals who were not committing any crimes whatsoever. For instance, if an individual who is driving down the highway with $10,000 cash and no other illegal contraband in his vehicle gets stopped, the officer can seize the money if he reasonable believes that it was derived from criminal activity even though it is not illegal to have large sums of cash in your car.
Within four days of law enforcement’s seizure of your property, they must file a petition with the court. The court will determine whether reasonable cause exists to believe the property is subject to forfeiture. Assuming the court finds that reasonable cause exists, it will then notify all parties claiming in an interest in the property of a hearing date and time.
At the CAFA hearing, the investigative agency that seized the property will have the burden of proof to prove all allegations contained in the petition. In short, they will be required to prove to the court that the money or property was used in or derived from criminal activity. In many cases, this can be difficult for law enforcement to prove. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and defend the case vigorously.
If a law enforcement officer has seized your property or money, contact the civil asset forfeiture attorneys at Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. today. Our aggressive team of attorneys can help to get your property back. We are available 24/7.