This is a follow up to the earlier post, Pirates in blue.
There are two principal kinds of civil forfeiture in Minnesota: judicial forfeiture, and administrative forfeiture, or as law enforcement probably likes to thinks of it, forfeiture lite! Less work, but the same great taste!
It was administrative forfeiture that permitted the Metro Gang Strike Force to become the impressive criminal enterprise that it did. It really shows that properly drawn, government incentives do work.
After property is seized in an alleged controlled substance violation, administrative forfeiture is commenced with this cheery missive from law enforcement:
[N]otice of the right to obtain judicial review of the forfeiture and of the procedure for obtaining that judicial review, printed in English, Hmong, and Spanish. Substantially the following language must appear conspicuously: "IF YOU DO NOT DEMAND JUDICIAL REVIEW EXACTLY AS PRESCRIBED IN MINNESOTA STATUTES, SECTION 609.5314, SUBDIVISION 3, YOU LOSE THE RIGHT TO A JUDICIAL DETERMINATION OF THIS FORFEITURE AND YOU LOSE ANY RIGHT YOU MAY HAVE TO THE ABOVE DESCRIBED PROPERTY . YOU MAY NOT HAVE TO PAY THE FILING FEE FOR THE DEMAND IF DETERMINED YOU ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD THE FEE. IF THE PROPER TY IS WORTH $7,500 OR LESS, YOU MAY FILE YOUR CLAIM IN CONCILIATION COURT . YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE CONCILIATION COURT FILING FEE IF THE PROPER TY IS WORTH LESS THAN $500."
There is a similar notice for administrative forfeitures of motor vehicles in certain moving violations offenses, such as impaired driving.
Other than referring to a single statute as guidance for how to proceed, the notice says nothing to the recipient about what to do, not even how long s/he has to do it. The answer, by the way, is sixty days.
The property owner must file a lawsuit and in most instances pay the new case filing fee, which is currently
$252.00 $322.00. As the plaintiff in such a suit, the property owner has the burden of showing that the property was improperly seized; since it’s a civil matter, none of the rights of accused persons are applicable. In fact, if you’re a criminal defendant, you sue to get your property back at some hazard to your personal freedom.
At least the notice is brutally honest about what happens to your property if you don’t file: you lose it. It doesn’t matter what ultimately happens to any criminal charge.
Because there is a homework assignment, I’ll end this post here. Please read for tomorrow the complaint in Rivera v. Metro Gang Strike Force.