Examples of Florida Civil Forfeiture Cases
A vehicle that is used merely to transport an individual whose subsequent conduct results in criminal activity is subject to forfeiture only if its use was closely and knowingly related to the criminal conduct. If the illegal activity had not been intended when the vehicle was used, and could have occurred as easily without the vehicle, it cannot be subject to forfeiture. City of Edgewood v. Williams, 556 So. 2d 1390 (Fla. 1990).
An aircraft could not be seized when the crime alleged was possession of an improperly registered aircraft. The plane was not an instrumentality but the "essence of the crime itself." Also, the aircraft was not "contraband" itself, so it could not be seized as property that is illegal to possess. Indian Harbor Beach v. Damron, 465 So. 2d 1382 (Fla. 5th DCA, 1985).
A defendant agreed to meet with an undercover police officer to buy drugs and drove his vehicle to the restaurant where he negotiated the deal. The State seized this vehicle, and the defendant was unable to challenge the forfeiture. Duckham v. State, 479 So. 2d 347 (Fla. 1985).
In another case, a defendant drove his Porsche to the Tampa International Airport to catch a flight to North Dakota where he brokered a drug deal. The State sought forfeiture of the vehicle, but the court held that the Porsche could not be seized. City of Clearwater v. One 1980 Porsche 911 SC, 426 So. 2d 1260 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983).
Two men owned a Dodge van, and one owner challenged the van's forfeiture when his son, the co-owner, was arrested for snorting cocaine in the van. The court held that the seizure was legal because the knowledge of one owner was enough. The innocent owner had no recourse in this case. In re Forfeiture of the Following Described Property: One 1976 Dodge Van, V.I.N. B21BE7K121343 v. Malick, 429 So. 2d 718 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1983).
A man drove his car to pick up a fifteen-year-old female friend from her apartment. While he was driving her home, he committed a lewd act. The State began forfeiture proceedings for the vehicle, but the defendant successfully challenged the forfeiture by showing that the vehicle was not an instrumentality of the crime. City of Edgewood v. Williams, 556 So. 2d 1390 (Fla. 1990).
A defendant used his truck to transport an illegal shotgun. The court held that the truck was an instrumentality of a different crime, possession of an illegal shotgun, and subject to forfeiture. In re Forfeiture of One 1978 Ford F250 Truck, 438 So. 2d 1023 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983).
Two men drove themselves to an adult bookstore that they owned and used to sell obscene materials in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). The State attempted to seize the Cadillac automobile they used to drive to the store, but the court held that there had been no showing that, but for the use of the automobile, the illegal activity could not have occurred. Martinez v. Heinrich, 521 So. 2d 167 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988).
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