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Seizure of a Vehicle for Forfeiture

What happens with law enforcement officers seize your car, truck, SUV, van, motorcycle, or aircraft after alleging it was used as an instrumentality in the commission of a felony under state or federal law?

Florida law prohibits using a motor vehicle for transporting, carrying, or conveying any contraband article in, upon, or by means of any property, motor vehicle, or aircraft, under Section 932.702 of the Florida Statutes.

For this reason, law enforcement officers sometimes seize motor vehicle for forfeiture claiming that it was unlawfully used to facilitate the “transportation, carriage, conveyance, concealment, receipt, possession, purchase, sale, barter, exchange, or giving away of any contraband article.” § 932.702, Fla. Stat.

In only limited circumstances can a motor vehicle be subjected to forfeiture as an instrumentality in the commission of a felony, if the vehicle was merely used to transport the individual to a site of criminal activity. See Deckham v. State, 478 So. 2d 347, 348-49 (Fla. 1985); In re Forfeiture of One 1983 Lincoln Four Door Automobile, Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.) NBP96F6DY602540, 497 So. 2d 1254 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986).

Attorneys for Vehicle Seizures in Florida

If your vehicle was seized for forfeiture by a state or federal law enforcement officer, then contact Leslie Sammis, a civil asset forfeiture attorney in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm. When it comes to seizures for forfeitures, our attorneys fight to get the car, truck, SUV, van, motorcycle, or aircraft back quickly.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey, FL, across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

We can help you get your vehicle back quickly in Tampa in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pasco County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, and Bartow in Polk County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500.


Vehicle Seizures under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act

Under Section 932.701(2)(a) of the Florida Statutes.the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, a contraband article can include personal property that was used in in the commission of a felony.

Florida law prohibits concealing or possessing any contraband article used as an instrumentality in the commission of any felony or violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act pursuant to Section 932.702 of the Florida Statutes.

For this reason, any vessel, vehicle, or other personal property which has been or is being used in violation of any provision of Section 932.702, Fla. Stat., is subject to forfeiture. § 932.703(1)(a), Fla. Stat.

Throughout Florida, law enforcement officers seize for forfeiture vehicles allegedly used in variety of crimes including drug trafficking, theft, prostitution, racing and DUI.

Under Florida Statute 316.80(3), any conveyance or vehicle, fuel tank, related fuel, and other equipment described in subsection (1) shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture as provided by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.


Vehicles Used to Transport a Person to the Site of Criminal Activity

Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, “[i]n any incident in which possession of any contraband article defined in s. 932.701(2)(a) constitutes a felony, the vessel, motor vehicle, . . . [or] other personal property . . . in or on which such contraband article is located at the time of seizure shall be contraband subject to forfeiture.”

Pursuant to § 932.703(4), Fla. Stat., “[i]t shall be presumed in the manner provided in s. 90.302(2) that the vessel, motor vehicle, . . . [or] other personal property . . . in which or on which such contraband article is located at the time of seizure is being used or was attempted or intended to be used in a manner to facilitate the transportation, carriage, conveyance, concealment, receipt, possession, purchase, sale, barter, exchange, or giving away of a contraband article defined in s. 932.701(2).”

The authorities might allege that the mere presence of the fraudulent illicit bulk currency, money orders or cashier’s checks in the vehicle created a presumption that the vehicle was used or was attempted or intended to be used to transport, conceal, or possess a contraband article, which would warrant the forfeiture of the vehicle.


This article was last updated on Friday, June 19, 2020.

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