19. What are Pleadings?

Pleadings are documents filed with the court, by each party, that describe the basic position of each party, and ask the court to rule in that party’s favor.

Within 30 days of the seizure, the State (always the Plaintiff in forfeiture cases) will file a Petition (also known as a Complaint) with the court. In civil asset forfeiture cases that Petition/Complaint is often called a "Notice of Seizure and Intended Forfeiture." The State’s Petition will give the reason the State is suing for the forfeiture of the owner’s property, the general facts that support the State’s suit, and the relief that the State requests (here, forfeiture of your property).  

In order to defend against the suit, the owner of the property must file an Answer. For more on the Answer, see Question 20.

In our example, the State would file a Petition or "Notice of Seizure and Intended Forfeiture" saying that:

1. the State believed drugs had been sold,

2. Steve’s $900 is the proceeds of a drug deal, and

3. under the forfeiture laws, Steve’s cash is Contraband and should be forfeited to the State.