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What Happens to My Property in a Drug Crime Case?

Being charged with a drug crime could lead to several different consequences, including imprisonment and fines. But did you also know that if you're convicted of a drug-related offense, your property could be forfeited? When your property or assets are forfeited, that means the government is keeping them. You will not get them back.

What Types of Assets Are Subject to Forfeiture?

Under Wisconsin law, in a drug crime case, not all of your property may be forfeited. Only that which is believed to have been used in the commission of the offense or derived directly or indirectly from the criminal conduct. Although not all of your property might be subject to forfeiture, the government can keep nearly anything you possess if it was part of the crime.

Items that can be forfeited in a drug crime case include:

  • Controlled substances
  • Raw materials, products, and equipment used to make, deliver, transport, or process the drug
  • Anything used or intended to be used to store the controlled substance
  • Any vehicles used to transport the drug or items used during the commission of the offense, such as weapons
  • Items used to conduct research for the crime, such as books or records
  • Real and personal property, such as money, derived from the commission of the crime
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Masking agents

What If I Was Only Charged with a Drug Crime?

If you have only been charged with a drug crime, Wisconsin's asset forfeiture will not apply. You are subject to having your property being taken away from you only if you are convicted of the alleged offense.

The district attorney can begin a civil forfeiture case after your property has been seized. However, a final judgment cannot be made until your criminal case has been resolved. If your case is dismissed or you're acquitted, the property will be returned to you within 30 days of the decision.

Exceptions to the conviction requirement exist, and your property can be forfeited if:

  • You have died
  • You were deported
  • You were given immunity in exchange for helping with another investigation
  • You fled the state or country
  • You did not claim the property within 9 months
  • Your property includes contraband that is subject to forfeiture by law

If you are convicted for the alleged drug offense, the State would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence in the civil trial that your property should be kept.

What Happens to My Property After It's Been Forfeited?

What the government does with your property after it has taken it from you depends on what the items were.

The law enforcement agency that seized your property can:

  • If it's a vehicle, keep it for 1 year and use it for official business. After the year, the agency can either sell the car or continue to use it.
  • Sell anything that doesn't need to be destroyed or that isn't harmful to the community
  • Remove it according to the law
  • Send it to the bureau

When the government sells your property, a portion of it can be used for forfeiture expenses. The remaining gets put into the state school fund.

If you've been charged with a drug crime in Milwaukee or the surrounding areas, a conviction could result in the loss of your rights, freedoms, and property. Allow our experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella to help challenge the accusations made against you. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (414) 882-8382 or contacting us online.