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Forfeitures and seizures after drug crimes in Arkansas

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Drug Crimes

The 2010 Arkansas Code 5-64-505 gives the police department the authority to seize certain property related to drug offenses. Then the state can even go further to forfeit (completely deprive the defendant of it) after the court hearing.

Understanding property seizure and forfeiture

When Arkansas law enforcement has a hunch that someone is involved in illicit drug activity, they have the right to seize any money or assets used as part of this crime – be it vehicles, land holdings and other possessions. They do this to prevent the defendant from benefitting from such items and also as a way to deprive them of the proceeds of the crime.

Property seizure vs. property forfeiture

It’s important to remember that property seizure and property forfeiture are two distinct processes. A seizure is when law enforcement takes away a suspect’s property for safekeeping until a trial occurs. Forfeiture happens after the court finds the defendant guilty of committing drug crimes in Arkansas. At this point, a judge can decide whether or not to permanently deprive them of their seized items as punishment for their crime.

Circumstances when defendants can get their properties back

Defendants can, in some cases, get their seized property back even after a court finding of guilt. This is generally limited to properties that the law classifies as “tools of the trade” – those items used by the defendant only to conduct their business and not for illegal activities. The court may also return cash if the defendant can prove beyond reasonable doubt that it has no connection to drug crimes.

Property seizure and forfeiture are powerful tools for law enforcement in Arkansas when prosecuting drug crimes. Defendants need to understand these processes and their rights should the state confiscate their property due to criminal activity. If things go well, a person may be able to get their items back whether the judge finds them guilty or not.