Seizures for Forfeiture by Police in Cincinnati, OH

The police may seize your property—your home, your car, your savings—if you are arrested, charged, or suspected of criminal behavior. This is called seizure. Forfeiture (also known as civil asset forfeiture or civil judicial forfeiture) is the forcible taking of your property without compensation. It does not matter if you are criminally prosecuted; you can still lose your property to forfeiture.

Joslyn Law Firm is consistently recognized as a proven leader in criminal defense. Our award-winning legal team has handled 20,000 cases and has successfully litigated victories for people accused of drug crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges. We were chosen by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys for the “10 Best Criminal Defense Firms in Ohio.”

Joslyn Law Firm is uniquely positioned to fully understand and appreciate what our clients are experiencing when they are caught in the tangled web of our judicial system. Our firm’s founder, attorney Brian Joslyn, was the victim of overzealous law enforcement as a teenager. He has dedicated his legal career to helping defendants and their families with seizures for forfeiture, violent crimes, drug crimes, and other offenses. 

A Seizures for Forfeiture by Police Lawyer Can Advocate for You

Unfortunately, seizures for forfeiture by the police in Cincinnati, Ohio are all too common. Once your personal property and financial assets are entangled in a criminal investigation, it is extremely difficult to recover what is rightfully yours. An attorney with Joslyn Law Firm will protect and defend your rights and help you recover your home, car, savings, and other assets that have been seized by state or federal agencies. 

Our commitment to our clients has earned our firm recognition by the American Jurist Institute as one of the nation’s top ten attorneys. Brian Joslyn, our founder and principal attorney, is included in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has earned the prestigious AV Preeminent award. 

If you have been accused, arrested, or charged with a crime and the police have seized your property or financial assets, call Joslyn Law Firm at (513) 399-6289 for a free consultation. You deserve to have a strong legal advocate on your side.


Back to top

Seizure for Forfeiture by Police in Cincinnati Information Center


Back to top

Overview of Seizures for Forfeiture by Police in Cincinnati

Property seizures or asset forfeitures are common when police investigate violent crimes, including those that involve drugs, gangs, or money laundering. As officers of the court, we appreciate and respect Cincinnati law enforcement. We appreciate that the purpose of seizure and forfeiture is to identify bad actors and to discourage others from following in their footsteps.

However, sometimes an innocent person suffers financially from aggressive seizure and forfeiture. It is difficult for most people to understand that they need not be convicted of a crime to permanently lose their property and assets. 

Ohio has some of the most unforgiving seizure and forfeiture laws in the nation. Under the state’s asset forfeiture laws, Ohio Revised Code 2981.01, police have the right to seize property or assets that are alleged to have been earned by illegal activities.

These properties and assets include:

  • Your home, land, rental property, vacation home, or commercial property
  • Cars, motorcycles, motorhomes (RVs), boats, or other vehicles
  • Legally registered firearms
  • Artwork, antiques, or furniture
  • Jewelry, collectible coins, or furs
  • Stocks, bonds, savings, or cash

The state does not have to prove that you personally acted illegally or were even aware of criminal activity. Even the most tenuous link between you and the commission of a crime can be enough for you to lose property or assets without compensation.


Back to top

Seizures for Forfeiture by Police Procedures 

There are four reasons why police may confiscate your property or assets: safekeeping, evidence, contraband, or forfeiture. Seizure is the act of taking your property, and forfeiture is the act of keeping your property without compensation or consideration to you.

Most property seizures require a warrant from a judge. However, the police can seize your property or assets without a warrant in certain situations:

  • The seizure is related to an arrest or a search warrant for a specific place or area.
  • The seizure occurs during an administrative inspection, such as a health and safety inspection.
  • The property was supposed to already be in police possession but was overlooked.
  • The police have probable cause that the property is dangerous to health or safety.
  • The police have probable cause that the property was or will be used illegally.

Law enforcement agencies do not have to have an overwhelming burden of proof to seize property that they believe was involved in a crime.

Forfeiture Procedures for Seized Assets or Property

 If state or local police seize your property, they would contact the district attorney’s office in the county where the seizure took place. There is then a lawsuit, with the state as the prosecutor, to request that the police retain the seized property permanently. 

You will receive a written notice of this lawsuit which gives you two choices:

  • If you do nothing, you lose the right to seek the return of your property.
  • If you decide to fight for your property or assets, you will need to appear in court at the appointed time and place.

If you do not choose one of our lawyers to help you, you will be expected to proceed with the same legal knowledge and understanding as the trained prosecutor. This is often an unfair match.


Back to top

Evidence Required for Seizures for Forfeiture by Police

According to the Ohio Revised Code 2981.05, a preponderance of the evidence is enough for police to seize your property or assets. A “preponderance of the evidence” is a lower burden of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It means that police must be greater than 50 percent certain that your property or assets were involved or contributed to criminal activity.

The type of evidence that police use to justify seizing your property varies but might include:

  • Photographic or video evidence of you with a known criminal or your property was involved in a criminal act.
  • Testimony that you were involved or aware of criminal activity.
  • Probable cause that the property or asset is contraband.
  • Probable cause that the property is evidence for a criminal trial.

It sounds terrifying that the police can seize your property or asset even if you did nothing wrong.

Agencies with the Authority to Seize Your Property or Assets

The state of Ohio is not alone in its ability to seize your property for forfeiture. Other law enforcement agencies who may impose federal seizure laws include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
  • United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Ohio law places the burden on innocent owners to prove that their property or assets were not used for illegal purposes. Even if there are no criminal charges, you may still have a difficult time recovering your property or assets.


Back to top

Defenses for Recovering Seizures for Forfeiture by Police

The police do not have to be 99 percent certain of your involvement in illegal activity to seize your property. Mistakes in identity and procedure can and do happen. If this happens to you, you want to do everything possible to get your property or assets returned to you.

An attorney with Joslyn Law Firm may argue that: 

  • You were falsely identified as a potential criminal or accomplice.
  • You acquired the property before or during the time that the crime occurred.
  • You are an innocent owner who did not know that the property was contraband.
  • You are the victim of domestic violence and were unable to prevent or report the crime connected with the property. 

If your property or assets were seized by police in connection with an ongoing investigation, you will have to wait until the proceedings are closed before you can seek recovery.

The police or agency that seized your property or assets must notify you in writing of their intent to forfeiture. You can then begin the process of seeking recovery of your property or compensation for your property. One of our lawyers that has a deep understanding of seizure and forfeiture laws can help you through this process.

Procedures for Retrieving Property Seized by Police

There are different procedures for retrieving property seized by the police. 

  • If you were arrested and your property confiscated by the police, you will receive a property voucher with a description of the items. You present the voucher (along with valid identification) to retrieve your property.
  • If the property is being held as evidence, you may need to wait until the investigation is over. The district attorney’s office may allow a substitute, such as a photograph or photocopy, so that you may recover your property sooner.
  • If the seized property is contraband, you will not be able to retrieve your items unless you can prove that you are the lawful owner.
  • If your property was seized and subject to forfeiture under state or federal law, you must attend a formal hearing to retrieve your property.

Joslyn Law Firm has the resources and knowledge to fight aggressively for the return of your property or assets.


Back to top

Resources for Seizures for Forfeiture in Cincinnati

The following are links to the Ohio Revised Code that pertain to seizures for forfeiture.

Civil Forfeiture Action

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2981.05(D)

This statute allows an individual to petition the court to release their seized property or assets that are subject to forfeiture.

This petition should include:

  • The person’s ownership or interest in the property
  • Why the seizure was unlawful
  • Request for the property to be returned

The court shall schedule a hearing on the motion not later than 21 days after it is filed.

Reporting Requirements by the State of Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2981.03(G), 2981.11(B)

This statute describes the reporting requirements as to the amount of property acquired by the Cincinnati police (or other agency), the date the property was acquired, description of the property, and guidelines for the sale or disposal of the property.

Statutes on Forfeiture Land Sales

Ohio Rev. Code § 5723

This statute explains the legal and financial procedures for forfeiture land sales.

Hamilton County Forfeitures Office

Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney

The District Attorney for Hamilton County (Cincinnati) has an asset seizure and forfeitures unit that handles over 500 cases each year.

Ohio Public Defender's Office

Criminal Law Casebook on Forfeitures

An intensive resource with links to Ohio statutes on forfeitures related to drug crimes, immigration, juveniles, and more.

Cincinnati Police Department

Summary of Federal and State Forfeiture Procedures

This document outlines the policies police should follow when seizing or forfeiting property and distributing said property.


Back to top

News About Seizures for Forfeitures

Prosecutors in Cleveland Seek more than $5 million in Assets Through Forfeiture from Accused THC Trafficking Ring

Prosecutors are seeking to obtain nearly $2.2 million in cash, a boat, a 1996 luxury car, seven upscale properties in Los Angeles and Ohio, and other assets. The federal attorneys in Cleveland claim that these assets are from the sale of illegal THC vape cartridges.

Justice Department Seeks Forfeiture of Third Commercial Property Purchased with Funds Misappropriated from PrivatBank in Ukraine

U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office are among the federal officials who are seeking forfeiture on millions of dollars of real estate in Ohio.

Judge Orders Forfeiture of Car

Judge Pamela Barker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ordered the forfeiture of a 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander from a defendant facing seven counts of sex trafficking. 

A Look into DHS Forfeiture Procedures 

The Federal New Network reports on the forfeiture policies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS seized over $2 billion in cash at American airports alone from 2000 to 2016. Many of the owners of that cash were never accused of criminal behavior. 


Back to top

FAQs about Seizures for Forfeitures in Ohio

What happens if my property is seized?

If your property was taken by local or state police, the agency must submit paperwork to the District Attorney in that county. You will receive a written notice sent via mail about a forfeiture lawsuit against your property. It is up to you to defend your right to ownership, or else the state may permanently keep your property.

Do the police need a warrant to seize my property or assets?

The police can seize property if it is discovered during a lawful search with probable cause.

Do I have to be charged with a crime to lose my property to forfeiture?

Many victims of seizures for forfeitures never face criminal prosecution.

What are some defenses to challenge a forfeiture?

You may argue for your property to be returned for several reasons. These include: you acquired the property before or during the time that the crime allegedly occurred; that you are an innocent owner who was unaware that the property was contraband; or that the police lacked probable cause.

Do I have the right to hire an attorney to help me get my property back?

Yes, you may hire an attorney of your choosing to argue your case against the state.

What happens to property and assets that are kept by the police?

Property such as boats, cars, and real estate can be sold, with the proceeds going to the law enforcement agency.

How much do the police make from forfeiture revenue?

The Institute for Justice estimates that Ohio law enforcement acquired over $25 million between 2010 and 2012 in forfeiture revenue.


Back to top

Attorney for Seizures for Forfeiture by Police in Cincinnati

When someone takes your property without your permission, you call the police. Who do you call when the police take your property without your permission?

If your car, boat, home, other real property, or assets were seized by police, Joslyn Law Firm might be able to help you get it returned. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of Ohio’s forfeiture laws.

Our firm has handled 20,000 cases from clients who represent all walks of life. We treat our clients with the respect and compassion that they deserve.


Back to top

Get a Free Consultation from Joslyn Law Firm

If you have had your property seized or received a notice of forfeiture, an attorney for seizures for forfeiture by police in Cincinnati is here to help. Call (513) 399-6289 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our firm.


Back to top