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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23155
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Customer Question

Under what circumstances can police seize your vehicle in the State of Georiga? Can it be seized under a misdemeanor charge?
This happened in Union City Georgia, the person driving the car is not the owner and there is a lien on the car by a third party. I feel the car was seized illegally, and the car has been torn up. Does the city of Union City have to pay the lien if I refuse to accept th car in the condition it was illegally seized?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

If the car is evidence of a crime or is the fruit or instrumentality of a crime, the police can impound the car. So, for example, if the driver is under the influence, if the driver is transporting drugs or other illegal contraband, if the car's registration is not up to date, if the driver has no valid license, all of these and more are the kinds of things that allow police to impound a car. If they arrested your daughter, they could impound the car and perform an inventory search or get a warrant enabling them to thoroughly search it for the presence of contraband.

If it is not her car, and you are the innocent owner of the car, and had no idea that she would be using it in a way that could get her arrested, then you can go to the prosecutor who is handling her case and see if he will be willing to have the car released to you. You could also speak to your daughter's lawyer and he could talk to the DA for you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The car is not insturmental in a crime, I feel like they seized the car illegally. I talked to the officier but he was not kind. I offered to fly home to pickup my car, he said it would do no good. She is pleading not guilty to both misdemeaner charges, she does not have the money for attorney, and in a misdemeanor case, there is no DA involved. Can't understand this situation. Union City Ga is a known county with severe problems in their judicial system. Can I insist they pay the car off and refuse to accept it back in the shape they put it in?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My daughter license is up to date, tag and insurance up to date, no problems with the car.[

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Hi Cherrene,

I am assuming if your daughter ended up getting arrested for a misdmeanor, than the impounding of the car was related to that misdemeanor. Here are the Georgia impound laws. (See link) And as you can see, it can be justifiable to impound a car pursuant to an arrest.

I don't know what your daughter is charged with, but she ought to be eligible for a public defender if she has no money to retain a private lawyer. The public defender can help you with the release of the car if you can prove your ownership of the vehicle. If your daughter is not guilty of whatever she was charged with, she has the right to go to trial on the case, and in the course of her case there will be hearings to challenge the stop of the vehicle, as well as the search and seizure of the car and any other evidence. That's the procedure for challenging the Constitutionality of the police actions as they relate to the 4th Amendment. If it's found that anything was taken from her in violation of her rights, that evidence would get suppressed and would not be used at trial.

You can try and say that you won't accept the car back, but it's been my experience that the fees and penalties will keep mounting. If they sell the car, which they would ultimately do, and they don't get enough out of it to pay the impound fees, you'd be liable for the rest of the money.

It's pretty sneaky, but the impounding of vehicles raises big money for counties. That's why, unfortunately, police in most places don't need much of an excuse to do it.

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