Seizure for Forfeiture by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

If you received a notice of seizure from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, contact an experienced attorney at Sammis Law Firm. The law enforcement officer who seized your property might provide you with a receipt and “notice of seizure.” The notice of seizure explains your right to demand an adversarial preliminary hearing (sometimes called the “APH”).

The notice says it is “not necessary to request an adversarial preliminary hearing.” However, demanding the adversarial preliminary hearing within the fifteen (15) day deadline might be the best and fastest way to get the property back. If you miss that fifteen (15) day deadline, getting the property back might become more difficult or take longer.

The forfeiture proceeding follows the requirements listed in the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Action (FCFA). The FCFA imposes numerous requirements on the law enforcement agency that seized the property, including:

  • a 10-day deadline to submit a probable cause application after the seizure;
  • a 10-day deadline to schedule an adversarial preliminary hearing after a claimant files a demand for the APH; and
  • a 45-day deadline to file a complaint for forfeiture in the Circuit Court in Volusia County, FL.

We can help you demand the APH hearing even if the sheriff’s office fails to issue you a receipt or notice of seizure. At the adversarial preliminary hearing (APH), we can help you contest the legality of your initial detention and the seizure of your property.

If you prevail at the APH, the court will order the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to return the property immediately and pay your reasonable attorney fees as required by statute.

Lawyers for Forfeiture Seizures in Volusia County, FL

If deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office confiscated your U.S. Currency, vehicle, or other valuable property, call us to find the best ways to get your property back quickly. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent innocent owners, lien-holders, and bona-fide sellers and purchasers.

In some cases, we can show the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office conducted an illegal search based on a pretextual stop or coercive attempts to gain consent for the search. In other cases, we might show the deputy had no probable cause to seize the property.

We can represent you before a circuit court judge at the adversarial preliminary hearing. If the sheriff’s office files a forfeiture complaint, we can help you file a claim, answer, motion to suppress, and motion to dismiss.

You have a right to have a jury determine whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the subject property is contraband subject to forfeiture to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the right to require the entry of a Final Judgment of Forfeiture on the subject property.

Call us at 813-250-0500.

Find the Forfeiture Petition or Complaint Online

If you want to find out more about a pending forfeiture case in Volusia County, FL, you can visit the clerk of court website using the “search record” and “case inquiry” options, which can be found here:

After you hit the button to accept the terms, you will see the Case Management Search Criteria page. You can search for the name of the seizing agency in Volusia County and enter the name of that agency in the box for “Business.” That will show you all forfeiture cases recently filed by that agency. The names of the agencies that file forfeiture actions can be searched using these terms:

DELAND Florida 32720

DAYTONA BEACH Florida 32114

Probable Cause Application after a Seizure for Forfeiture

After a seizure for forfeiture by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the agency only has ten (10) days to file a probable cause application under Florida Statute Section 932.703(2)(a). In Volusia County, the sheriff’s office uses VSO Form # 071416.001.

The application is presented to a judge (ex parte) in the same manner that an officer would obtain an arrest warrant or search warrant. The application asks the court to make a preliminary finding of probable cause based on the seizure of the property in Volusia County, Florida.

The forfeiture attorney at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office usually attaches an affidavit from the seizing deputy explaining what occurred. Many cases involve Task Force Agents and K9 handlers with the Volusia Bureau of Investigation who have attended narcotics-related classes such as indoor/outdoor grows, search warrant typing and execution, dark web investigations, confidential informant courses, drug interdiction courses, DEA basic, clandestine laboratory school, undercover operations classes, Homeland Security Investigations Task Force Officer course, 160 hour Drug Odor Detection K9 Handler School, a Mexican Cartel course, and general instructor course. These officers claim to be familiar with methods of sales, packaging, smuggling, transporting, consumption, and other methods used by persons involved in the sale, trafficking, and use of illegal narcotics.

In some cases, the filings are sealed and considered exempt from disclosure if the events involving the seizure of the property constitute an active criminal investigation. See Section 119.07(1), Section 24(a), Article 1 of the Florida Constitution, and Rule 2.420, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.

The application for probable cause might allege the owner of the seized property was arrested for a criminal offense, which forms the basis for determining that the property is a contraband article. In other cases, the application alleges that the seized property is U.S. Currency or another monetary instrument.

The court then determines whether probable cause exists for the property seizure under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, Florida Statutes 932.701, et seq. If so, the property will be held for further proceedings.

Request the Adversarial Preliminary Hearing in Volusia County

If you received a notice of seizure after a deputy with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office confiscated your property for a civil asset forfeiture proceeding. In that case, the notice will explain when, where, and how to file the demand.

We carefully follow those instructions on the notice of seizure. The notice requires you to send the demand for the adversarial preliminary hearing to the address listed.

After we file the demand for the adversarial preliminary hearing, an attorney from the Confiscation/Forfeiture Unit of the Office of the General Counsel for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office will call us.

During that first phone call, the VSO attorney usually asks us to delay the hearing outside the ten (10) day deadline. We rarely agree to waive that ten (10) deadline.

If you prevail during the judicial process, the seized property shall be released immediately to you. Under those circumstances, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office cannot assess any towing charges, storage fees, administrative costs, or maintenance costs against you. The court might also require the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to pay your reasonable attorney fees if you “substantially prevail.”

At the APH, we can obtain the reports related to the seizure and cross-examine all officers involved. Hopefully, you win the hearing, but if not, you can still gather valuable information to help you challenge the seizure during a motion to suppress evidence, a motion to dismiss the complaint for forfeiture, or a jury trial on the merits.

Contraband Forfeiture Procedures in Volusia County, FL

The Volusia Sheriff’s Office General Order GO-043-07 explains the agency’s standard operating procedures for seizing for forfeiture contraband articles under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA). Under this policy, deputies might seize for forfeiture the following types of valuable property: U.S. Currency, vessels, or vehicles.

The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA), Sections 932.701-.7062, Florida Statutes, authorizes the Volusia Sheriff’s Office (VSO) to seize for forfeiture proceedings property classified as “contraband” under the FCFA.

When the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office seizes cash for forfeiture, the deputies must collect and package the money following general order GO-083-01. The funds are sent to the Evidence Section, which then arranges for the transfer to the VSO forfeiture account.

In forfeiture cases, the sheriff’s office might use the following forms:

  • Probable Cause Application/Order Regarding Probable Cause, VSO Form # 071416.001
  • Notice of Seizure and/or Forfeiture, VSO Form # 112415.001;
  • Transfer of Ownership of Motor Vehicle, Motor Home or Vessel and Waiver of Right to Notice of Seizure (Titled Property), VSO Form # 112114.001; or
  • Statement of Disclaimer of Interest or Transfer of Ownership and Waiver of Right to Notice of Seizure (Non-Titled Property), VSO Form # 082503.001.

How Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Uses Forfeited Property

For fiscal year 2023-24, the Volusia County Council reestablished a Volusia County Fine and Forfeiture Fund as described in Section 129.02(3), Florida Statutes. Under the provisions of the “Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act,” F.S. 932.701-932.704, local boards of the governing body in Volusia County, FL, can establish law enforcement trust funds in which to deposit the proceeds from confiscated property seized during arrests.

The money deposited in this trust fund is used only for law enforcement purposes but not as a source of revenue to meet the normal operating needs of the law enforcement agency. Instead, the Sheriff might request that the Volusia County Council allow the funds to be expended to:

  • defray the costs of protracted or complex investigations;
  • to provide additional technical equipment or expertise;
  • to provide matching funds to obtain state and federal grants; or
  • for such other law enforcement purposes as the council deems appropriate.

The “Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act” also allows Volusia County authorities to deposit the proceeds from confiscated property seized during arrests into law enforcement trust funds.

History of Civil Asset Forfeiture in Volusia County, FL

In the 1990s, Sheriff Bob Vogel and his deputies seized more than $6 million in U.S. Currency from vehicles stopped for traffic infractions along Interstate 95. Most of those cases involve civil asset forfeiture because no criminal charges were ever filed.

Jeff Brazil and Steve Berry published a series of articles in the Orlando Sentinel, “Tainted cash or easy money?” In 1993, the series won a Pulitzer Prize after revealing that more than 90 percent of the seizures were from people who were black or Hispanic.

This article was last updated on Thursday, May 23, 2024.