Civil forfeiture entitles police to confiscate your assets. Police can take any property that they believe is related to criminal activity. The owners of the money, property or assets seized do not need to be convicted of a crime—or even arrested—for police to confiscate their property.

Asset forfeiture was originally intended to help police shut down large-scale crime groups. Taking away profits made it more difficult for the criminal enterprise to operate. Today, many believe civil forfeiture is used to help police departments increase profits.

What happens to the assets?

The police department that confiscates the assets gets to keep them. They can keep the assets if they choose or the department can sell them. In most cases, the department gets to keep all the proceeds.

In accordance with Alabama law, the police department does not have to report the assets seized. All assets and proceeds go to the law enforcement agency.

An example of civil forfeiture

An Oklahoma officer pulled a man over for a broken tail light. The police officer who pulled him over started searching the vehicle. The officer didn’t find any illegal substances or evidence of drug use. The officer did find over $53,000 cash.

Although there was no evidence of a crime, the officer seized the cash. After a defense attorney became involved, the department dropped the civil forfeiture case and returned the full sum of money to the owner.

Had an attorney not been involved, it is likely that the man would not have gotten his money back.