Asset Forfeiture in Virginia

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 24-Feb-2016

Your husband was arrested for drug dealing and the police seized your SUV, the one you use to drive your three children to school, and emptied your bank account. Now, you’re worried that they’ll take your house. What are you going to do? Is this legal?

In November 1990, Virginia’s citizens voted on new laws that allowed law enforcement to benefit by seizing cash, property and goods that are connected to drug dealing and the illegal distribution of such drugs.

Under these laws, law enforcement agencies can sell the various items seized in connection to drug trafficking, including homes, automobiles, boats, and land etc. and they get to keep the proceeds and put it towards further law enforcement activities.

Before these laws were enacted, all money and property that were seized in connection to the sale of forfeited items was deposited into the State Literary Fund, but today local law enforcement agencies use the funds for their own purposes.

Drugs and Law Enforcement Seizures

Under Section 19.2-386.22 of the Code of Virginia, law enforcement agencies can seize any money or property that is substantially connected to manufacturing, selling or distributing an illegal narcotic.

Anything of value that is offered in exchange for a controlled substance is subject to seizure. Also, any money or property, real or personal that was purchased by the profits made by illegal drug activities can be seized.

In this case, virtually anything that has been purchased with the profits of drug dealing can be seized. This would include, but is not limited to vehicles, real estate, artwork, jewelry, and firearms etc.

Under Virginia law, when it comes to what types of property can be seized, the state says there are “no restrictions.” The only exception is that a person’s real estate cannot be seized unless their drug violation is serious enough to carry at least a five-year sentence.

If you were arrested for a drug crime and are worried about your assets being seized by law enforcement, contact a Richmond criminal defense attorney at Carlson & Collier!

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Glen Allen, VA 23060
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