Civil Asset Forfeiture in New Jersey | What You Need to Know

Posted March 6th, 2023.

Categories: Criminal Defense.

money and gavel

In January of 2020, New Jersey passed two bills regarding civil asset forfeiture reform. Essentially, one bill stated that an individual must first be convicted of a crime before law enforcement can seize that person’s property. The other bill stated that police departments must provide quarterly reports regarding all forfeiture activities. While these two laws intended to reform civil asset forfeiture, one year later (January 2021), the Institute for Justice (a public interest law firm) gave New Jersey a “D-” when it comes to its civil forfeiture laws. Though the organization conceded that the two reforms were significant, they also stated that further reform was needed. That being said, if you believe your property was wrongly confiscated from you in civil forfeiture, our New Jersey criminal defense attorney is here to help. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What does civil asset forfeiture mean?

Essentially, civil asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement can confiscate any property obtained through illegal activity, such as “drug money.” They can also seize any property used to commit a crime, and any property that is critical when analyzing an alleged illegal act, under civil asset forfeiture. The bottom line is that if law enforcement believes that your property was involved with criminal activity, they may confiscate it. Aside from profits turned from dealing drugs, some commonly confiscated items are automobiles used to transport drugs, money financing illegal gambling, and more.

How does asset forfeiture work?

Once law enforcement obtains the property, the state will file a civil lawsuit regarding the reasoning behind confiscating the item. They will also have to clearly establish the connection between the criminal act and the defendant. Rather obviously, if at this point we can prove that you were not involved in or aware of the criminal act, your charges should be dropped. If you have any additional questions about civil asset forfeiture in New Jersey or you believe that your assets have been wrongfully seized, you must speak with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys today. We are here to help.

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