Questions You May Have About Civil Asset Forfeiture

1. What is civil asset forfeiture?

2. What is the difference between "a seizure" and "a forfeiture?"

3. Who can seize property?

4. What types of property can be seized?

5. When can civil asset forfeiture happen?

6. Is a warrant required to seize my property?

7. Do I have to be convicted of a crime for my property to be seized?

8. What protections do I have if my property is seized?

9. Do I have a right to a court-appointed attorney?

10. Do I have the right to an attorney at all?

11. If my property is seized, is it automatically forfeited?

12. Will it cost me money to challenge the seizure?

13. Will I have a jury trial?

14. Can I get my property back before the forfeiture case is decided?

15. What if the property is my home?

16. What rules is the State required to follow in a forfeiture case?

17. What is the State's burden of proof?

18. What are some defenses I can use to challenge a seizure?

19. What are Pleadings?

20. What Pleadings should I file?

21. What is the difference between filing a document and serving a document?

22. How do I file a document?

23. How do I serve a document?

24. Do I have to file and serve documents in a forfeiture case?

25. Who do I need to serve?

26. What happens if I miss a deadline for a Pleading?

27. What is "Discovery" and what is a "Discovery request?"

28. What should I do if the State sends me a request for discovery?

29. What happens if I miss a deadline to respond to a request for Discovery?

30. Should I send the State my own Discovery requests?

31. What are the possible ways my case could end?

32. What is a settlement agreement?

33. What can I do to settle my case?

34. What documents/evidence should I bring with me to court?

35. How should I talk to the judge in my case?

36. What should I wear to court?

37. Can cell phones be turned on during court?

38. What is a default judgment?

39. Once a default judgment is entered, is there anything I can do?

40. What happens if I lose my case? Can I appeal?

41. What can the State do with my property if I lost the case?

42. What do I do if I am feeling overwhelmed? What do I do if I feel like this is too much for me to handle?

The Story of Steve Carter: A Civil Asset Forfeiture Example

Throughout this guide, we will use a made-up situation to explain the process for a forfeiture lawsuit. Check the sidebar throughout this guide to see how Steve Carter, our example Texan, might go through his civil asset forfeiture case:

On June 15, a Texas resident named Steve Carter goes to a check casher to cash his paycheck. On his way home, Steve gets pulled over by a police officer named Anthony Potts in York County, Texas for running a stop sign. At that time, Steve is carrying the $900 in cash that he got from cashing his paycheck. Officer Potts asks Steve, “Are you carrying anything I should know about?” Steve tells the officer, “I have $900 in the car because I just cashed my paycheck.” Officer Potts orders Steve out of the car and takes the cash. Later, Officer Potts says that he smelled marijuana in the car, and that he took the cash because he was “sure that Steve’s money came from selling drugs.” Steve is Served with Notice of the forfeiture suit on July 7.