Seizures & Forfeitures in WA Drug Cases
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Washington law permits the forfeiture of property involved in drug crimes. RCW 69.50.505 - Seizure and forfeiture.
This means that the police can take, keep, and sell certain private property if they can show it was used in connection with a Washington VUCSA or drug related crime.
Property commonly seized includes:
- Vehicles (cars, trucks, boats, planes, RV's, etc.): which were used or intended for use to facilitate the delivery of controlled substances;
- Money: furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance;
- Real Estate Property (houses, condos, apartments etc.): connected to the cultivation, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance.
If your property was seized under this law, you have a limited amount of time to request a hearing regarding the seizure and forfeiture of your property.
If you fail to notify the agency within this limited time period, you will forfeit any claim you have to that property and it becomes the property of the government.
If you do request a hearing in time, the police must prove that they had probable cause to believe that the seized items were the proceeds of, or used, or intended to be used in illegal drug activities.
Burden of Proof
Then the burden shifts to you to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that the property was not used in connection with any illegal drug activity.
A preponderance of the evidence means that it is more probably true than not true that the property was not used in connection with a drug crime.
Note: although the law is clear that your property cannot be seized if it was used in connection with the receipt of less than 40 grams of marijuana, it is important to note that the delivery or sale of any amount of marijuana will justify police seizure of your property.