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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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My vehicle was seized a while back because it was ...

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My vehicle was seized a while back because it was apparently used as an instrument to commit a crime. I wasn't in any mannor involved in the alleged crime. The crime was that the one driving it at the time bought some empty cardboard boxes and used the vehicle as a means of transportation. Later on the boxes were tranferd to another vehicle which was also seized. The detectives confiscated 30 pounds of marijuana on a house and since the ones driving the seized vehicles went in and out of the house, the detectives detained bothe vehicles. My problem is that on of the vehicles was mine and at that time I hadn't made the title transfer and only had a bill of sale to back me up. I did the title transfer asap but resulted useless. Everyone from the ones involved in the crime to the previous owners were served with case documents except for me. Now I am afraid to loose my vehicle. I researched and apparently I am an interested third party but wasn't served eitherway. what can i do.
This is a difficult situation, for which you should consider obtaining legal assistance from a local lawyer.

Under Texas law, property which was seized in a drug case and which would otherwise be subject to forfeiture may not be forfeited if the owner can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was not involved in the commission of the crime and that the property was used in the commission of the crime without the owner's consent to that use.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 59.02 describes the rules for forfeiture of seized property. The innocent owner exception is in sub-section (h) of that code section.

Sub-section (h)(2) of that section also requires the prosecutor, if he knows the identity of the owner, to give notice of all legal proceedings with respect to the property.

So, if you have given the DA's office notice that you are the owner, they are required to give you notice of the legal proceedings. If you have not already done this in writing, you should do so immediately. Provide any paperwork you have to show that you are the owner. I would take copies of all of your documents directly to the DA's office, hand deliver them and have someone sign for receipt of them. I would even have that person initial and date a copy of each page that you deliver, so that there is no doubt later that you provided the appropriate documents.

You should then be provided with notice of any hearing and the court should provide you with an opportunity to be heard and to present evidence. Eventually, if the court believes you have proved by a preponderance of the evidence (which means just a little more than 50-50) that you were not involved and did not know the vehicle would be used in the commission of any crime, it should be ordered released to you.

Good luck getting your truck back.

Jim Reilly

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