Vehicle Seizure Forfeiture

Knox County Criminal Defense Law Firm and Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorneys

Local law enforcement are charged with enforcing the seizure of certain personal property, and law enforcement typically seizes vehicles, money, and other indicia of ill-gotten gain. The person from whom the property is seized is provided a receipt. The original document stays with the seizing agency. The authorizing agency then sends the completed documents to the Legal Division for the State of Tennessee to process. In DUI cases, jurisdiction has been given to the Commissioner of Safety for the legal hearings seeking forfeiture of the seized property.  Personal property can be seized for possession of drugs, or narcotics. Cars, boats and other vehicles can be seized if a motorist is caught driving on a driver’s license which has been revoked for DUI or of one has been convicted of DUI for a second or subsequent DUI or vehicular offense.  Both driving under the influence convictions must have occurred within specific time frames and the means to calculate the time frame is too much for the scope of this article. It is complicated.

When the personal property is in fact seized, the police officer completes the Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture of Conveyances form. The police officer provides the individual in possession of the property that is being seized with a copy of this document to use as receipt and to indicate that the property has been seized. The police officer will then be responsible for taking the Notice of Seizure along with a completed Forfeiture Warrant to a local Magistrate Judge to present probable cause for the seizure. In the event that the Magistrate Judge also finds probable cause for the seizure, he or she will sign the warrant.

As soon as the warrant has been signed, the signed Warrant and the Notice of Seizure form are then submitted to the Legal Division for the State of Tennessee. Notice of the Forfeiture Warrant has been signed by a judge and is then sent by certified mail to any person that can be reasonably located who may have an interest in this property. If an individual has an interest in the seized property, they will have 30 days after receiving the notice and signing the certified mail receipt to file a petition requesting a court hearing. One will have to post a bond in order to ensure a hearing. Litigation with the State requires money. If applicable, one can apply for a hearing on a pauper’s oath.

After a petition is submitted, a date is set for hearing to determine how the property will be disposed. Notice of this court hearing date will be sent to all parties that have filed a petition about thirty (30) days prior to the hearing date being set. An Administrative Law Judge will preside over this kind of hearing. The state of Tennessee has many prosecuting attorneys for these types of hearings.  Claimants will likely need to retain their own personal defense attorney, at their own expense.

Because the circumstances and facts of each seizure case differ, you will need to contact an experienced Tennessee DUI lawyer. The Attorneys at The Law Offices of James A.H. Bell are experienced in handling vehicle forfeiture proceedings with the Tennessee Department of Safety. Our phone number is 865-637-2900

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Law Offices Of James J.H. Bell
6210 Highland Place Way Knoxville, TN 37919

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