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Rule to Show Cause at Pre-Seizure Hearing

When a law enforcement agency seeks to seize a house, office building, land, or other real property, it must file a notice of lis pendens and a petition for authorization to restrain the real property.

These actions involve an allegation that the real property has been used in violation of law under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, and is proceeding in civil court to have this property forfeited so that all right, title and interest in the property will be granted to the seizing law enforcement agency.

After the rule to show cause is issued, the court will conduct a pre-seizure adversarial preliminary hearing. The notice will tell you the judge’s name, hearing time and date, and location where the hearing will be held.

At the hearing, the court will determine, based upon the affidavits and evidence presented, whether probable cause exists for the seizure or restraint of the subject property and, if so, what manner of seizure or restraint will be authorized.

Attorneys for the Pre-Seizure Hearing in Florida

If you were served with a RULE TO SHOW CAUSE AT PRE-SEIZURE HEARING, then you should immediately contact an attorney and provide them with a rule to show cause.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm fight forfeiture actions during adversarial preliminary hearings or at forfeiture trials throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.

We can represent any person claiming an interest in the real property and objecting to the seizure or restraint of the property. We can attend this hearing with you to present evidence, examine witnesses, and help you state your position regarding the proposed seizure or restraint of the property.

If you don’t retain an attorney or fail to properly make a claim of an interest in the property, then you will be deemed to have waived their rights (at least during that state of the case).

Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact us to discuss your case.

Call 813-250-0500.

What Happens at the Pre-Seizure Adversarial Preliminary Hearing

The rule to show cause at the pre-seizure hearing must contain the address and legal description of real property that the law enforcement agency is seeking to seize or retrain.

The pre-seizure adversarial preliminary hearing shall be conducted in the same manner as a post-seizure adversarial preliminary hearing. The claimant or property owner is permitted to present evidence, examine witnesses, and assert their position regarding the proposed seizure or restraint of the property.

At the pre-seizure adversarial preliminary hearing, the Court shall enter an order determining whether probable cause does or does not exist for seizure or restraint under Florida’s asset forfeiture act.

What Happens if I Win the Adversarial Preliminary Hearing?

If the Court determines that no probable cause exists, it will enter an Order Dismissing Forfeiture Action for Lack of Probable Cause, and will discharge the lis pendens effective thirty (30) days from the order unless a timely appeal is taken. The order will be recorded.

Motions to award reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to the Act, Chapter 57, or other provisions of law must be made within the time permitted under Rule of Civil Procedure 1.525.

What Happens if the Court Finds Probable Cause at the Preliminary Hearing?

If the Court determines that probable cause exists, it will enter an Order Finding Probable Cause which authorizes seizure or restraint of real property and which also states whether any form of seizure or restraint other than lis pendens is appropriate.

The complaint for civil forfeiture and a copy of the Order Finding Probable Cause will be served in the manner provided for original process on all claimants as defined under the Act.

As in other civil cases, a summons will be issued and served. The summons requires any claimant who desires to contest forfeiture to file with the Clerk and serve on the attorney for the seizing agency a written response to the complaint within twenty (20) days after service of process.

In addition to service of original process on the claimant, if the claimant is represented by counsel in the forfeiture proceeding, a copy of the summons, complaint, and order finding probable cause shall be served on said counsel in the manner set forth in Rule of Civil Procedure 1.080. The attorney can also agree to the voluntary acceptance of process.

After service of the summons and complaint, a civil forfeiture action will proceed as other civil actions and shall be governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure except as otherwise specified under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

Sample Rule to Show Cause

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE _________ JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR ________COUNTY, FLORIDA

IN RE: FORFEITURE OF

(Address and legal description of real property)

CASE NO.: DIVISION:

RULE TO SHOW CAUSE AT PRE-SEIZURE HEARING

TO: (Claimants’ names and addresses)

KEEP THIS PAPER. CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY.

Whereas (name of seizing agency) has filed a notice of lis pendens and a petition for authorization to seize or restrain the real property described above, and is claiming that said property has been used in violation of law under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, and is or will be proceeding in civil court to have this property forfeited so that all right, title and interest in the property will be granted to the seizing law enforcement agency,

NOW, THEREFORE, RULE TO SHOW CAUSE IS HEREBY ISSUED requiring a pre-seizure adversarial preliminary hearing to be held before the Honorable (judge’s name), (hearing room or courtroom number or location), (name of courthouse), (courthouse address), on (date), at (time), at which time the Court will determine, based upon the affidavits and evidence presented, whether probable cause exists for the seizure or restraint of the subject property and, if so, what manner of seizure or restraint will be authorized.

All persons claiming an interest in this property and objecting to the seizure or restraint thereof must attend this hearing to present evidence, examine witnesses, and state their positions regarding the proposed seizure or restraint of the property, but will be deemed to have waived their rights if they do not attend.

You are not required to attend the hearing if you do not object to the seizure or restraint of the property.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this rule to show cause shall be sent forthwith by the seizing agency to all claimants by certified mail, return receipt requested.

DONE AND ORDERED at (city), (county), Florida, this  ___ day of 2020.

(Judge’s name)

Circuit Judge

Copy picked up by/ sent to seizing agency:

Date:

JA:


This article was last updated on Friday, May 22, 2020.