Law enforcement commonly uses asset forfeiture in many criminal cases around the state of California. It is the process by which the government seizes assets, including property, cars and artwork, from individuals accused of a crime. Many people regard it to be an unfair practice because it punishes the individual before the state has convicted him or her of a crime. The authorities can use it from everything from drug crimes to white-collar crimes

In the last few years, the police have confiscated everything from cash and jewelry to priceless artwork. This all amounts to millions of dollars taken away from citizens. It is vital to understand the state’s asset forfeiture rules so you know when and if the police cross a line. 

The police can take assets before the state convicts you of anything

On the surface, asset forfeiture appears to be similar to other forms of criminal penalties. However, unlike jail time or fines, the police can retrieve assets even if you end up proven innocent. It is a civil penalty rather than a criminal one. Many organizations have pointed out that this has a huge potential for abuse. This is due to the fact police organizations in California get to keep 65% of the sales of any property. That means the more they confiscate, the more money the police department could end up with. The police can confiscate virtually anything, including:

  • Vehicles
  • Weapons
  • Animals
  • Telecommunication equipment
  • Cash money

After conviction, it becomes property of the state

For the police to retain such property, there does need to be a conviction at least related to the crime associated with the item. That means a person could end up with a slew of charges, end up convicted of a minor one and lose assets. At this point, the property officially becomes forfeited to the state, which can sell it later.