Seizure for Forfeiture by SPPD

Officers with the St. Petersburg Police Department seize valuable assets for criminal and civil asset forfeiture proceedings. Contact an experienced asset forfeiture attorney to get the property back.

The SPPD issued an instruction order establishing uniform guidelines for the seizure and disposition of property subject to forfeiture under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA).

The policy of the SPPD is to use civil asset forfeiture proceedings to deter the continued use of contraband articles for criminal purposes while protecting the proprietary interests of innocent owners and lien holders.

When officers with the St. Petersburg Police Department make seizure for forfeiture, they must adhere to federal and state constitutional limitations regarding an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures including:

  • the illegal use of stops based on a pretext;
  • coercive-consent searches; or
  • a search based solely upon an individual’s racial or ethnic status or characteristics.

Furthermore, officers should not engage in the practice of biased policing while conducting field contacts, traffic stops, searches,
asset seizures, forfeitures, or any other law enforcement activity.

An experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney can help you fight to get your property back.

Attorney for Forfeiture Seizures in St. Petersburg, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm help clients get their property back after a seizure for forfeiture.

As a general rule, Florida law requires the “Notice of Seizure” to be provided to all interested parties within five (5) days of the seizure. The courts have refused to permit a law enforcement agency to continue a forfeiture action when the Notice of Seizure has not been provided within this time period.

Once you receive the notice, you only have 15 days to demand an adversarial preliminary hearing. Once we file, the agency only has 10 days to set the hearing in court.

We can also help you file a judicial claim, answer, motion to suppress illegally seized evidence, or motion to dismiss if insufficient evidence supports the seizure.

Our office for Pinellas County is located at 14010 Roosevelt Blvd Suite 701, Clearwater, FL 33762-3820, near the CJC courthouse on 49th Street.

Call 727-210-7004 to discuss your case with an attorney focused on civil asset forfeiture in Pinellas County, FL. We also represent clients after a seizure for forfeiture by the Clearwater Police Department. 

Property Subject to Seizure for Forfeiture by SPPD

Property seized for forfeiture in St. Petersburg, FL, can include any of the following:

  • money or currency;
  • jewelry;
  • vehicles;
  • vessels;
  • aircraft;
  • tools;
  • devices;
  • weapons;
  • machines of any kind;
  • securities;
  • books;
  • records; and
  • negotiable instruments.

As required by §932.704(11)(b), F.S., the Legal Advisor at the St. Petersburg Police Department, or their designee, must determine whether a civil forfeiture action is filed. As a general rule, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled “homestead” property is not subject to forfeiture.

The burden of proof in the civil asset forfeiture proceeding in Florida is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Seizures of Vehicles for Forfeiture by the St. Petersburg Police Department

When seizing a vehicle for felony Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR), officers with the St. Petersburg Police Department may have a difficult time determining whether sufficient prior DWLSR convictions support the seizure. Seizure of vehicles for felony DWLSR should be made only if at least one of the following is clearly present:

  • The driver has a prior CONVICTION for felony DWLSR.
  • The driver’s license has been revoked pursuant to §322.264, F.S.S. (Habitual Traffic Offender).

When seizing a vehicle for felony fleeing and eluding, the City of St. Peterburg bears the burden of proving the vehicle owner knew, or should have known, the vehicle was likely to be used in criminal activity.

After an arrest by the St. Petersburg Police Department for felony fleeing and eluding, they might seize a vehicle if the owner is the driver and they are arrested at the time of the offense.

This article was last updated on Thursday, June 6, 2023.