Arizona Criminal vs. Forfeiture Proceedings

Have you ever seen an Arizona felony prosecutor driving around in a drug dealer’s tricked out ride? We have. Felony prosecutors all across Arizona, particularly in Flagstaff, Coconino County, can use forfeited or seized vehicles to drive to court to prosecute other people. But how is that legal? Why is the County Attorney driving around in an alleged drug dealer’s car?

Should the police and government be permitted to take your car, your money, your house, your computer, and your cell phone? Should the police and government be permitted to keep your stuff, sell it off at auction, or sell it to the county prosecutors at a reduced cost? Should you have to see a prosecutor driving a “work vehicle” with sweet gold rims that were once yours?

Here’s how it all works. Let’s say you’re driving on I-40 through Northern Arizona and you are pulled over by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) for going 77 mph in a 75 mph zone. (This is called a “pretext stop” that is often the result of racial or drug courier profiling by the Arizona state police.) Sure enough, the police claim they smell marijuana, citing to their olfactory prowess. You’re arrested and your car is searched. The police claim to locate some packaged marijuana in the trunk. You’re taken to jail, and your vehicle is impounded.

Days later, you’re served with a civil legal pleading called a Notice of Pending Forfeiture, in which the State of Arizona declares that they are not going to give back your vehicle, cell phone, cash, or anything else in the car they want. Without a forfeiture lawyer, which you are not entitled to free of charge, you wouldn’t know that if you fail to respond within the right time frame, your property is gone forever.

A forfeiture case is actually civil, not criminal, in nature. It is a lawsuit. It is not a criminal charge, even though it is extremely related to felony allegations (i.e., the felony charge of transportation of marijuana for sale). So while you’re thinking, “Am I going to prison for 3 to 7.5 years?” the State of Arizona is thinking, “Can we make money while we send this person to prison?”

At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we not only fight hard to keep you out of prison. We fight hard to keep your stuff, to protect your property, to fend off those greedy officers and prosecutors. We defend against forfeiture seizures. We don’t want cops and prosecutors to drive around in your car, use your MacBook Pro, talk on your cell phone, and use your cash to investigate and imprison other people.

Forfeiture proceedings come with a unique set of rules, particularly the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and other forfeiture statutes contained in the Arizona Revised Statutes. At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we are experts at criminal defense and forfeiture claims. Let us handle your civil forfeiture defense along with your felony criminal defense.

We offer free legal consultations on all Arizona felony drug transportation and money laundering cases in Flagstaff, Prescott, Camp Verde, Holbrook, Kingman and all over Northern Arizona – and all related forfeiture matters.

For a free consultation, call us by using the number at the top right of the screen. Or use our free contact form on the right side of the page.

Don’t let the government take your stuff. Don’t let prosecutors steal your ride.