Northern Arizona – When an Arizona felony drug crime is charged, the State will look to take away things of value used for criminal behavior, like computers, cell phones, vehicles, cash, and more. That’s because the Arizona criminal code gives the State the power to seize those items, auction them off (or keep and use them) and keep the proceeds!
But did you know: through civil forfeiture proceedings, police and prosecutors and take your stuff, auction it off and keep the proceeds to fund their own budgets? And they can do that without ever charging a crime!
The basic rule for forfeiture in drug offenses is: If something is used or intended for use in violation of Arizona drug laws, they’re going to take it.
The kinds of things they can take in drug cases include: Property Equipment Containers Chemicals Materials Money Books Records Research Products Formulas Microfilm Tapes Data Vapor-releasing substances Vehicles See A.R.S. section 13-3413(A).
And the stuff subject to seizure does not need to be closely linked to the crime. The stuff just need to be proceeds and “traceable” to a drug offense that was committed for financial gain. So, if the State thinks you bought an iPhone with marijuna sales proceeds, your iPhone is a goner. Marijuana and other drugs, including peyote, can be summarily forfeited. Typically, the State must institute forfeiture proceedings. You will see case names like U.S. v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency, which is called an in rem proceeding because, as you can see, the U.S. is instituting a lawsuit over money, not a person.
This type of forfeiture proceeding is the norm. So the moral of this forfeiture story is if you’re accused of selling drugs, or committing any drug offense where you have any financial gain, including transporting drugs on the interstate, your vehicle, phones, computers, and other property are subject to seizure and forfeiture.
They’ll be used by the police, or prosecutors, or sold at auction. If you’re involved in a forfeiture proceeding, contact Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC immediately.