In North Carolina, investigators can seize your property — whether it’s a vehicle, items inside your home or even money — if they believe someone used the property in question to commit a crime. In certain circumstances, if you wind up facing charges and a criminal court judge convicts you, the state can request a forfeiture, meaning you don’t get your things back.
When that happens, the court holds a special hearing to decide whether to order the forfeiture. In some cases, if the court makes the order, the state will then sell your property and give the proceeds to your local school board. Depending on the circumstances, the state might receive a portion of the proceeds, as well.
If someone uses money from drug crimes to purchase property
It’s not only items in your possession that may be subject to asset forfeiture under a conviction. If the court convicts you of a “continuing crime operation,” such as manufacturing drugs with intent to distribute, then the court can seize and forfeit anything you bought with money accrued from such activities.
Be aware that confiscation does not necessarily have to take place during a search or arrest. In fact, there have been cases where weeks have gone by between the alleged commission of a crime and the seizure of property. The law doesn’t specify a time limit.
What happens to the property seized before the outcome of a case?
When the court confiscates items before a case has been fully adjudicated, North Carolina law states that the court must seal the items and place them in storage. Various issues affect how and when the court can seize items, as well as what will happen to confiscated property under conviction. For example, whether the alleged crime in question is a state or federal felony is relevant to asset seizure and forfeiture law procedures.
Criminal defense options available
If you’re arrested and face criminal charges in North Carolina, whether investigators seize your money, car, boat or other items, you are entitled to explore any criminal defense options that may be available to you. Determining how to plea and whether to challenge evidence are just a few examples of many decisions you must make when you have been accused of a crime. Reaching out for experienced guidance and support improves your chances of obtaining a positive outcome.
While it doesn’t guarantee that a conviction will not be handed down, many times a strong criminal defense can weaken the state’s case and lead to a decision in the defendant’s favor. If you’re worried about losing property under forfeiture laws or have any questions about criminal proceedings, it’s helpful to reach out for support.