When law enforcement make an arrest and have reason to believe items found on the accused are possible proceeds of a crime, the arresting officer is permitted by law to seize that property. This can include cash, your car, jewelry, and any other item the police think was used in the crime or is a product of the crime. The accused does have the ability to ask for return of their property though, but must follow the proper procedure for making this request. Given the rate at which items are seized, it just makes sense to fight to get your stuff back while you are fighting the criminal charges against you.

The law that allows for the seizure of items is the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. It is this same Act that sets forth the three steps you must undertake to get seized property back into your hands. Those steps are:

  • Serve a demand for an adversarial preliminary hearing on the agency that took your stuff. This must be done within fifteen days of the items being seized and must include a detailed description of your property. For items such as cars, this is a relatively easy task because you can list the make, model, and VIN number of your car. For things like cash, the case is more difficult.
  • Provide a copy of the notice of seizure you received when your things were taken, if you received such a notice.
  • Make sure you send your demand for hearing by certified mail, and request a return receipt to prove the date it was served.


Once the attorney for the agency that performed the seizure gets served with the notice, you may be asked to waive the requirement for a quick hearing. If you stand your ground and refuse to waive your rights, the attorney may be more willing to negotiate a return of your property. If not, you will need to appear at the hearing and provide evidence to the Court showing the items were not used to help facilitate a crime, or are not the proceeds of criminal activity. The process can be confusing, but we can help. Our team of experienced criminal law professionals has helped others in this situation, and is able to assist you also. Call us today so you can make sure the demand is served timely, and that the paperwork is in order.


For more information about how to have seized property returned, call an experienced defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. We work with you to tailor a defense that fits the specific facts of your case. We offer an initial consultation for no charge, and look forward to helping you resolve your case in a satisfactory way.