Civil Forfeiture


Civil Forfeiture Attorney in Jacksonville

Civil forfeiture is a mechanism through which the State can seize property that is connected to illegal activity. Often the case stems from a drug offense arrest. For the State to make a claim on any property, it must establish that the property is contraband, was obtained with the proceeds of crime, or is an instrumentality of a crime. In order for property to be considered an instrumentality, it must be designed or intended for use or have been used as the means of committing a criminal offense. For example, a car used as the getaway vehicle in a bank robbery can be forfeited under the statute.

This process is governed by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, which is found in Sections 932.701-704 of the Florida Statutes. These statutes set out the civil process that the State can use to claim any property that qualifies. It is important to note that these are not criminal proceedings, and the owner of the property does noft need to be a defendant.


Forfeiture is a harsh punishment and difficult to challenge. However, a skilled attorney can force the State to meet its burden. He or she can also challenge the application of the statute. Because forfeitures are considered to be harsh consequences that are not favored in law or equity, they are to be strictly construed whenever there is a question as to their meaning or application. Additionally, if the property that the State is attempting to forfeit is your home, we can even challenge the constitutionality of such forfeiture under Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution protecting homesteads.

The determination of whether property is subject to forfeiture can turn on one fact. Cases with similarly situated defendants often have different results. An experienced civil forfeiture attorney can make the difference between losing your property and keeping it. Shawn Arnold has prosecured and defended hundreds of civil forfeiture cases in Florida. Put that experience to work for you.

Click on the pages below to discuss other topics on forfeiture: