Defending Michigan Drug Forfeiture Cases
As many of my fellow Michigan criminal defense attorneys have experienced, the use of forfeiture powers in drug cases by prosecutors has greatly increased, due in no small part to the vast amount of monies that can be generated for police and local governments. Per MCL §333.7521, a police force can confiscate any money or property that is furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance, an imitation controlled substance, or other drug in violation that is traceable to an exchange for a controlled substance, an imitation controlled substance, or other drug in violation of Michigan drug laws or that is used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of Michigan drug laws including, but not limited to, money, negotiable instruments, or securities. This basically means that if an officer suspects for instance, you purchased your car using drug money, they can seize and sell your property.
The actual process behind forfeiture is both complex and designed for the person subject to the forfeiture to fight. First, the seizing authority (usually the police department) issues notice to whomever may have an interest in the property or money. Next, viewing MCL §333.7523(c), that person has approximately 20 days to file a bond with the seizing agency. Our experience is that the bond at a minimum will be $250, and generally represents approximately 10% of the estimated value of the property. In the event the person does not file a bond within the 20 days, they forfeit the property and have no further recourse.
Once the bond is posted, the local prosecutor’s office has a limited amount of time to file a forfeiture case in the circuit court. This suit is for all intensive purposes a civil suit, which gives you as the defendant the power to conduct civil discovery. This could be beneficial to your criminal case as well as civil discovery allows for depositions of the police officers involved in the forfeiture.
Ultimately, if no settlement can be reached, the court will hold a bench trial to determine whether the property or monies seized were in fact products of drug dealing or drug proceeds. In order to avoid this unjust result, you must immediately speak to a Michigan forfeiture attorney who has experience in fighting forfeiture cases. As forfeiture lawyers, we have experienced all sorts of different cases involving the government’s attempt to unjustly seize and forfeit our client’s property.
If you or a loved one has been charged with possessing or distributing prescription drugs, you need legal help immediately. At Amberg & Amberg, we are known for defense of drug charges. If you need our help, call us or email us today. Our attorneys believe in what they do and they believe in your innocence. We are industry recognized leaders in criminal representation and we fight to win.