Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer

Law Office of W.F. ''Casey'' Ebsary Jr

Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer: Protecting Your Rights and Property

A Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer knows that civil forfeiture is a legal process that allows law enforcement agencies to seize cash, property, and other assets suspected of being involved in or obtained through criminal activity. In Florida, civil forfeiture laws are governed by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, which provides law enforcement officers the authority to seize any property believed to be involved in a criminal offense, including drug offenses, prostitution, and racketeering. If you are facing civil forfeiture, it is essential to seek the help of an experienced Tampa forfeiture lawyer. Call W. F. Casey Ebsary Jr. at 813-222-2220 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer

Vehicle Forfeiture in Pinellas County

In January 2022, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced a new policy that allows law enforcement officers to seize vehicles used to flee from deputies. Under this new policy, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office can seize the vehicle at the time of arrest or later, even if the driver does not own the car. This policy has raised concerns from some lawyers, a Tampa defense attorney experienced in asset forfeiture cases, sometimes worries about the blanket use of the state’s evasion law to seize cars. Concerns also include the potential for excessive arrests and seizures, which the courts will ultimately need to address.

Important Issues in Civil Forfeiture

Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer
Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer

Probable Cause

Before property can be seized, law enforcement officers must have probable cause that it was involved in a criminal offense. This means there must be enough evidence to support a reasonable belief that the property was involved in or obtained through criminal activity.


Under Florida law, law enforcement officers must notify the owner of the seized property within five days of the seizure. The owner then has 15 days to request an initial hearing to challenge the seizure.

Forfeiture Proceedings

Once the seizure has taken place, the law enforcement agency has 45 days to initiate forfeiture proceedings or 60 days if they can demonstrate “good cause” to a judge. The owner also has the right to a jury trial to determine if they knew or should have known the property would be used to commit the crime. When faced with the time, expense, and risk of losing a trial, the Sheriff may settle the case instead of taking the property.

Florida Statutes

For a comprehensive understanding of civil forfeiture in Florida, it is essential to reference the relevant Florida Statutes:

Top Five Things to Consider When Hiring a Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer

ExperienceEnsure the lawyer has significant experience handling civil forfeiture cases.
Knowledge of Local LawsThe lawyer should be well-versed in Florida’s specific forfeiture statutes and procedures.
Track RecordLook for a lawyer with a proven track record of successfully defending against forfeiture.
CommunicationChoose a lawyer who communicates clearly and regularly updates you on your case.
Client ReviewsCheck reviews and testimonials from past clients to gauge the lawyer’s effectiveness.
Hiring a Tampa Forfeiture Lawyer

Top Five Tips From a Seasoned Forfeiture Counselor to Get Your Stuff Back from the Cops

  1. Act Quickly: Time is of the essence in forfeiture cases. As soon as your property is seized, you need to act swiftly. The legal window to request a hearing and file necessary paperwork is often very short, sometimes just a few weeks. Prompt action ensures you meet all deadlines and signals to the authorities that you are serious about contesting the seizure. Gather all necessary documentation immediately, including the seizure notice and any other relevant documents.
  2. Hire an Experienced Lawyer: The legal landscape surrounding forfeiture is complex and can be challenging to navigate without expert help. An attorney specializing in forfeiture cases will understand the intricacies of the law and be able to provide the best strategy for your situation. They can help file the correct paperwork, represent you in court, and negotiate with the authorities on your behalf. An experienced lawyer increases your chances of recovering your property significantly.
  3. Document Everything: Meticulous record-keeping is crucial in forfeiture cases. Keep detailed records of all the property that was seized, including descriptions, serial numbers, and photographs. Document every interaction you have with law enforcement, including the dates and times of communications, the names of officers you spoke with, and the content of those conversations. Gather and maintain receipts, proof of ownership, and any other documents that can substantiate your claim to the property. This documentation will be vital in proving your case.
  4. Challenge Probable Cause: One of the key aspects of fighting a forfeiture case is challenging the probable cause that led to the seizure of your property. Your lawyer can scrutinize the evidence that law enforcement used to justify the seizure and look for weaknesses or inconsistencies. If the probable cause can be successfully challenged, it can significantly weaken the case against you and improve the likelihood of recovering your property. This might involve questioning the validity of the evidence or the manner in which it was obtained.
  5. Prepare for Court: Be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. You have the right to challenge the forfeiture before a jury of your peers. This means being ready to present your case in court, including calling witnesses, presenting evidence, and making legal arguments. Work closely with your lawyer to build a strong case and rehearse your courtroom presentation. Being well-prepared for court can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case and can sometimes encourage a settlement before the trial even begins.

By following these tips, you can improve your chances of successfully reclaiming your property from law enforcement. Remember, acting swiftly, securing expert legal representation, and meticulously documenting everything are key steps in navigating the forfeiture process.

Civil Forfeiture in Florida: A Forfeiture Lawyer Takes a Closer Look

Civil forfeiture is a powerful tool used by law enforcement to combat crime. However, it can also lead to abuses and the wrongful taking of property. Understanding the nuances of civil forfeiture in Florida, particularly in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, is crucial for anyone facing this legal challenge. If you are dealing with civil forfeiture, call W. F. Casey Ebsary Jr. at 813-222-2220 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Understanding Civil Forfeiture and Protecting Your Rights

Civil forfeiture can have significant consequences, impacting your property and financial stability. This legal process allows law enforcement agencies to seize assets they suspect are connected to criminal activity, even if the property owner is not charged with a crime. In Florida, the laws governing civil forfeiture are outlined in the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA), found in Chapter 932 of the Florida Statutes.

Under the FCFA, law enforcement agencies can seize property they believe is involved in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, or other specified offenses. The seized property can include cash, vehicles, real estate, and other valuable assets. The burden of proof lies with the state, but the threshold is lower than in criminal cases, often requiring only a preponderance of the evidence.

Key Provisions of Florida Forfeiture Laws

  1. Seizure and Notice Requirements (Fla. Stat. § 932.703): When property is seized, the law enforcement agency must provide notice to the property owner within five days. The notice must include details about the seizure and information on how to contest it. Failing to provide timely notice can be grounds for challenging the forfeiture.
  2. Requesting an Adversarial Preliminary Hearing (Fla. Stat. § 932.703(3)): Property owners have the right to request an adversarial preliminary hearing within 15 days of receiving notice of the seizure. This hearing allows the owner to contest the seizure and requires the state to demonstrate probable cause for the forfeiture. If probable cause is not established, the property must be returned.
  3. Final Hearing and Burden of Proof (Fla. Stat. § 932.704): At the final forfeiture hearing, the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. This is a lower standard of proof than in criminal cases, making it easier for the state to prevail. However, property owners can present evidence and arguments to challenge the state’s case.
  4. Innocent Owner Defense (Fla. Stat. § 932.703(6)): Property owners can assert an innocent owner defense, arguing that they were not aware and did not consent to the illegal use of their property. If successful, this defense can result in the return of the seized property.

Protecting Your Rights

Given the complexities and potential consequences of civil forfeiture, it is essential to protect your rights and ensure you have experienced legal representation. An attorney specializing in forfeiture cases can navigate the intricacies of the FCFA and provide the following assistance:

  • Timely Action: An attorney can help you act swiftly to meet critical deadlines, such as requesting an adversarial preliminary hearing and filing necessary paperwork.
  • Legal Strategy: A lawyer can develop a robust legal strategy tailored to the specifics of your case, whether it involves challenging probable cause or asserting an innocent owner defense.
  • Evidence Gathering: Legal representation can aid in gathering and presenting evidence to contest the state’s claims, including documentation of legitimate ownership and lawful use of the property.
  • Court Representation: An experienced attorney can effectively represent you in court, making persuasive arguments and cross-examining witnesses to weaken the state’s case.

Civil forfeiture cases can have far-reaching implications for your property and financial stability. Understanding your rights under Florida law and securing knowledgeable legal representation are crucial steps in protecting your interests and achieving a favorable outcome.

For more detailed information on the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, you can refer to the Florida Statutes, Chapter 932, available through the official Florida Legislature website.

Conclusion by a Forfeiture Attorney

Civil forfeiture can have significant consequences, impacting your property and financial stability. It’s essential to protect your rights and ensure you have experienced legal representation. If you are facing civil forfeiture in Florida, contact W. F. Casey Ebsary Jr. today to understand your options and get the help you need. Call 813-222-2220 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation now.

Client Reviews

He was amazing and he took care of everything , throughout the entire process, Casey remained professional, approachable, and responsive. He got my case dismissed 45 days before court date. He really is an outstanding...

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Amazing service from a true professional litigator; Casey takes a genuine interest in his clients. The fees for his services are reasonable and i got the results I wanted. I recommend him with the utmost confidence...

Brent Gargus

We called to get help with my father in law's 10 year old court case. During the consultation, Mr. Ebsary took it upon himself to look into the details and was able to make things way more clear for us. He was honest and...

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