Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Dayton, OH

If you or someone you know is facing a potential vehicle seizure for forfeiture or have already had their vehicle seized in Dayton, OH, our criminal defense team wants to review your case and see how we may be able to help you.

Our criminal defense attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm have earned over 15,000 case victories and have been voted to be in the top 100 by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Our attorneys have experience working with the criminal justice system in Ohio, so they are prepared to strategize a comprehensive defense argument to fight for your rights and potentially recover your vehicle.

Brian D. Joslyn and His Defense Team Know How to Fight for Your Rights

Founded by Brian D. Joslyn, Joslyn Law Firm is a legal team that remains dedicated to advocating for Ohio citizens’ rights. Brian himself has experienced the abuse and overzealous behavior that law enforcement can inflict on people, which influenced him to pursue a career in law and defend people’s innocence.

Police brutality can range from physical violence to unlawful manipulation, and our law firm aims to fight against unjust efforts made against you. The Ohio Police Department must abide by state reforms put in place on civil asset forfeiture, which means they cannot seize your vehicle unless your case has been heard.

If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer to help you retrieve your vehicle after it was seized for forfeiture in Dayton, OH, our team at Joslyn Law Firm wants to review your case. We handle civil forfeiture cases involving unlawful seizures from the police department, and we aim to help defend you from false allegations. Call (937) 356-3969 for a free consultation with one of our team members today.


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Dayton Vehicle Seizures for Forfeiture Information Center: 


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Extenuating Circumstances that Can Lead to a Vehicle Seizure for Forfeiture

Law enforcement officials may seize a private citizen’s property, such as their vehicle, if they exhibit evidence of committing a criminal offense or if other extenuating circumstances are involved. These circumstances include:

  • The vehicle was used to engage in the illicit sale of contraband or illegal services.
  • The vehicle was purchased using proceeds from an illegal transaction, such as a drug deal.
  • The vehicle was seen during multiple instances of criminal offenses. For example, it was present during multiple drug transactions or solicitation/prostitution
  • The vehicle contains contraband, such as illicit drugs, unregistered weapons, or obscene materials (e.g., child pornography).

However, while an arresting officer may seize your vehicle, it does not necessarily mean they did so lawfully. A criminal defense lawyer from our team may be able to help you retrieve your vehicle and other property.


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Defenses You Can Make to Contest a Vehicle Seizure for Forfeiture

The following are defenses you might be eligible to make when contesting a seizure for forfeiture on your vehicle:

No Charges Have Been Filed Against You and You Have Not Had a Trial by Jury

In 2017, House Bill 347 was passed in the Ohio Senate, which mandates that law enforcement does not have a legal right to seize your vehicle or other property for forfeiture unless they have filed charges against you and you have had the opportunity to receive a trial by jury.

Exceptions include if your vehicle was seized for contraband that violates federal law and that is valued over $100,000, in which case federal agencies may take over your case. However, if no legal steps were made to seize your civil assets, you may be within your right to contest the action.

The Property Seized Is Not Within the Legal Perimeters for Police to Collect It

Law enforcement in Ohio must follow certain financial parameters to seize civil assets from private citizens. These are:

  • They must file charges and have you convicted in court if they intend to seize property valued at $15,000 or below.
  • If they intend to transfer higher valued property to the federal government, it must be valued over $100,000.

The Arresting Officer Had No Evidence to Warrant a Seizure on Your Vehicle

The arresting officer must be able to provide probable cause and evidence that you committed a criminal offense in order to request a seizure of your vehicle. The burden of proof falls on the prosecuting party, which is another change that HB 347 instated to protect innocent people from having to forfeit their personal property.


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How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Build Your Case

Working with a criminal defense lawyer from Joslyn Law Firm can allow you to take the backseat while we manage your case for you. We will keep you updated as we work on your case so that you remain informed throughout the matter, but we can handle the legal work for you.

We Can Investigate Your Case to See if the Arrest or Seizure Was Unlawful

The burden of proof in cases involving vehicle seizure for forfeiture falls on the prosecution, but you will still need to be able to defend any allegations made against you, especially if you are facing a potential conviction.

Our legal team can investigate how your arrest occurred or the manner in which your vehicle was seized to determine whether your rights were violated at any point in either process. We may argue an arrest or seizure was unlawful if:

  • Your vehicle was seized without written notice to you or the court.
  • There were no charges filed against you to warrant a civil asset forfeiture.
  • The arresting officer did not read your Miranda rights, meaning you did not know the nature of your arrest and future seizure.
  • The arresting officer had no probable cause to pull your vehicle over or search your vehicle.

We Can Help You Collect Evidence to Support Your Claims

During our investigation, we may also help you gather evidence to support your stance. Evidence may include:

  • Video footage, such as from the police officer’s body cameras, traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, or dashboard cameras
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Photos of the vehicle’s interior and where the alleged contraband was found
  • Data records, such as cellphone records, driving records, or criminal records

We Can Attend Court Hearings on Your Behalf

One of our criminal defense lawyers can attend court hearings on your behalf to present your case. They can help you request a trial by jury to contest your vehicle’s seizure and present an argument to fight for your property.

Should your case lead to negotiations for a plea deal to reduce charges or restore your property (excluding contraband, if applicable), they can also advocate for your rights and interests during these meetings and advise you accordingly.

We Can Handle Other Administrative Tasks on Your Behalf and Advise You

Our legal team makes a team effort to create a comprehensive case for every client we take on. This means we take on the responsibility of handling legal casework for you and submitting appropriate documents on your behalf.

As our client, you can also refer to our team whenever you have questions or concerns about your case. Feel free to contact our office whenever you experience new legal obstacles or discover new evidence to support your case.


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Ohio Vehicle Seizures for Forfeiture Resources

The following are some resources for Ohio citizens facing vehicle seizures for forfeiture:

Institute for Justice: “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture”

The Institute for Justice (IJ) advocates for civil asset forfeiture reform in police agencies across the United States. In their information packet, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” they provide information that shows the abuse law enforcement has done to private citizens and their property.

You can learn more about your rights, the effectiveness of forfeiture, and forfeiture laws.

Miller v. Ohio State Highway Patrol (2020)

Jerry Miller appealed the Fayette County Court’s decision to seize his currency after finding marijuana valued up to $270,000 inside his vehicle in a traffic stop.

Miller contested the decision, arguing that the arresting officer had no right to seize the currency without a conviction and that transferring the currency to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was also unlawful since they were not present at the scene at the time of the arrest.

His appeal was denied with the following reasoning: Local police agencies may seize contraband and other assets valued over $100,000 to the federal government, allowing the appropriate federal agency to take over the civil asset forfeiture case.

Ohio Attorney General’s “Ohio Sunshine Laws 2021”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost provides the Ohio Sunshine Laws 2021 information packet, which explains the latest legal changes and decisions made in Ohio legislature. It also explains Ohio’s Public Records and Open Meetings Act, allowing private citizens to understand their rights within the state.

Ohio Revised Code § 4503.234

This statute mandates that an order of criminal forfeiture of a vehicle may be sent out if the vehicle’s owner has had an opportunity for their case to be heard and if they have been convicted after doing so.

Exceptions apply to civil asset forfeiture cases involving federal agencies.

Ohio Revised Code § 4511.195

This Ohio statute gives law enforcement officials the right to seize and detain a vehicle if the arrested person has a prior conviction on their record.

Rules and restrictions on when a vehicle may be seized, who must be notified, and where the seized vehicle may stay also apply.

Dayton Police Department: Forfeited Vehicles for Sale

The Dayton Police Department uses GovDeals to sell forfeited vehicles after seizure. You can view listed vehicles for sale in the provided links.

Montgomery County Civil Division

This Division is a branch of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, and it handles forfeitures and seizures or vehicles and other assets in Dayton.

Ohio Civil Asset Forfeiture News

Ohio Police Can’t Keep Seized Property Until Charges Are Filed, Under Bill That Passed Senate

Cleveland.com reported updates on civil asset forfeiture reforms in Ohio since House Bill 347 passed in 2017. According to state law, law enforcement cannot seize and/or keep a citizen’s personal property or cash unless criminal charges have been filed.

The law now mandates citizens must be given due process of law before having their property seized, which prevents law enforcement from seizing citizens’ property based off suspicion alone.

The bill passed in the Ohio Senate with a vote of 81-10 and has since been signed by then-Governor John Kasich. The reform policy received support from the Buckeye Institute, the ACLU of Ohio, and other national criminal justice reform groups. 

Ohio Now Requires Criminal Convictions for Many Civil Forfeiture Cases

Forbes reported in detail about House Bill 347 passing through the Ohio Senate in 2017. The law bars law enforcement from confiscating and keeping citizens’ personal property without a conviction, and it also takes measures to prevent local and state agencies from using a legal loophole to get around these mandates.

Local and state agencies previously were able to use “equitable sharing” to seize property without warrants if they cooperated with the federal government and surrendered the property under federal law. This allowed law enforcement to keep a majority of the proceeds.

However, with the new law instated, police can no longer seize and transfer property valued at $100,000 or less to the federal government. This excludes contraband and property seized for federal forfeitures.

According to state law, the government must first file charges and convict a citizen in criminal court before they can seize and keep any property valued under $15,000. The burden of proof now falls on the government instead of the property’s owner to protect owners’ private property rights.

Despite DOJ Loophole, Police Seizure Revenue Falls Drastically

The Columbus Dispatch reported that revenue from civil asset seizures and forfeitures dropped since state reforms were enacted in 2016. Despite former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reinstatement of the Equitable Sharing Program, police divisions in Ohio still experienced a drop in revenue.

The Equitable Sharing Program involves the U.S. Department of Justice and allows federal prosecutors to handle civil forfeiture cases in local areas. Local or state agencies may seize and keep citizens’ property and transfer the property to the federal government for a percentage of the proceeds. However, with state reforms in place, law enforcement can no longer do this without convicting the property’s owner first.

Since state reforms were set in place, the Columbus Division of Police saw a drop in revenue for civil asset seizures. In 2012, they received $440,000 in revenue for seizures versus $95,000 in 2016. The burden of proof now falls on the government prosecutor, which may take the burden off Ohio residents, particularly those living in low-income communities.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicle Seizures for Forfeiture in Ohio

Q: Does the Ohio Police Department Have a Right to Seize My Vehicle Without a Conviction?

A: No. If you have not been convicted of a crime or had previous convictions, the Ohio Police Department does not have the right to seize your vehicle and keep it. They must file charges against you and notify the court about your conviction before they can seize your property.

However, if you have previous convictions, a police officer may arrest you and take measures to seize your vehicle, per Ohio Revised Code § 4511.195, effective June 30, 2021. The arresting officer must send a written notice to the court and the arrested person about the arrest and the location of the seized vehicle.

Q: What Circumstances Give the Police a Right to Seize My Vehicle for Forfeiture?

A: Property, such as your vehicle, may be subject to forfeiture after criminal charges are made against you. An arresting officer may petition to seize your vehicle for:

  • Contraband: This includes being in possession of illegal items, such as drugs or unregistered weapons.
  • Proceeds: If you acquired contraband in a criminal act, such as a drug deal, those items may be labeled “proceeds.”
  • Instrumentalities: If the arresting officer witnessed and can prove that you were in the process of committing a criminal act, they may arrest and file charges against you to seize your vehicle.

Q: How Can I Get My Vehicle Back After It Was Seized for Civil Forfeiture?

A: If your vehicle was seized for forfeiture, you can hire a criminal defense attorney from Joslyn Law Firm to help you request a trial by jury, as is your right according to Ohio Revised Code § 2981.08.

A lawyer from our team can help you send the appropriate administrative notices to the court system to have a local, state, or federal trial by jury. We will advocate for your innocence and help you contest the seizure so that you may receive your property back.

Q: What Happens to My Vehicle After It Gets Seized for Forfeiture?

A: Per Ohio Revised Code § 4503.234, if you have been convicted of a crime—meaning you have had an opportunity to have your case heard in trial—you may receive a court order for the seizure of your vehicle and other property if applicable. Once your vehicle gets seized for forfeiture, contraband and other evidence may be kept while your vehicle may be disposed of or sold.

The prosecutor must send you a written notice about the date of issuance of the forfeiture order. You can hire a lawyer from our firm to help you retrieve your vehicle before it is sold or disposed of.

Q: Can I Be Arrested or Put in Jail for What They Find in My Vehicle?

A: A police officer may arrest you if there is obvious evidence that there is contraband in your vehicle or that you used your vehicle for illegal activities. However, this does not mean that any contraband they discover was collected lawfully, even if you agree to let the police officer search your vehicle.

If you are facing criminal charges or had your vehicle seized for forfeiture, you still have the right to have your case heard. Our criminal defense team can review your case to see if law enforcement had a legal right to arrest you or seize your vehicle, then defend your right to retain your property. If you do face charges, we may be able to help you reduce or eliminate them.


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A Defense Lawyer from Joslyn Law Firm Can Help You Contest a Vehicle Seizure

If your vehicle was seized for forfeiture in Dayton, OH, a criminal defense attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can help you take steps to retrieve your vehicle and other property inside.

We can look into whether your vehicle was seized without a charge or conviction and then build a strategy to defend your innocence. Call our team at (937) 356-3969 for a free consultation with one of our team representatives.


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