Can police take things during a search that don’t belong to me?

4. Talk to a lawyer about civil forfeiture

You don't have to be or charged with a criminal for the government to seize your property through . With civil forfeiture, the government can take your property if the police believe:

  • the item was paid for with money gained through crime, or
  • the item was used to commit a crime.

Property can include any type of asset, such as:

  • cash or money in bank accounts
  • real estate
  • vehicles

A judge in a will decide if your property can be seized under civil forfeiture. The judge makes this decision based on a .

With a balance of probabilities, the judge must be more convinced than not. If the judge is 51% convinced that your property was used to commit a crime, or bought with money made from a crime, your property can be seized.

It's easier to show a balance of probabilities than to show something is . You can only be convicted of a crime if the court can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did it. A court may not have enough to convict you, yet still have enough reasons to keep your property. You can lose your property even when you're not convicted of the crime.

Talk to a lawyer if the police apply to have your property seized through civil forfeiture.

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