Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Cincinnati, OH

Joslyn Law Firm is widely and consistently recognized as a leading criminal defense law firm for a wide array of criminal charges. One such charge our firm handles is the seizure of vehicles for forfeiture. We remain steadfastly dedicated to serving people in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and providing them with legal representation that allows them a fair trial. Our proven successes have consistently earned us high marks among our clients and honors from colleagues and organizations. 

Founder and criminal defense attorney, Brian Joslyn, has been honored as a Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He also has earned the “Top Lawyer” designation from Columbus CEO Magazine. He serves as a de facto expert on criminal law in Ohio to multiple media outlets, including news publications like The Columbus Dispatch and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

With more than 20,000 criminal cases on our track record, we continue to exemplify top-notch legal service. We have represented clients facing tough situations and various criminal charges. One pillar of our success is that we believe each client who comes to us deserves a fair trial, and we work diligently to get them a fair day in court. Let our team help with your vehicle forfeiture case now.

Allow an Attorney for Vehicle Seizures for Forfeiture in Cincinnati to Defend Your Rights

State and federal authorities can seize and forfeit property they suspect is involved in or connected to illegal activity. If you are facing the possibility of losing your vehicle after it was seized for forfeiture in Cincinnati, Ohio, contact Joslyn Law Firm right away to explore your legal options. You can seek representation and take steps to protect your rights and your possessions.

We can work on your behalf to get your car, van, truck, motorcycle, boat, or aircraft returned to you as soon as possible. Guidance from one of our criminal defense attorneys can help you, as they understand the complex laws that govern state and federal seizure and forfeiture cases.

We Can Fight Your Vehicles for Forfeiture Case in Cincinnati, OH

If you have been arrested on felony charges and law enforcement seized your vehicle, your case involves criminal forfeiture. State and federal laws may apply to your situation. Our attorneys can review the details of your situation and advise you further on the appropriate laws in your case. 

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) explains, criminal forfeiture is part of the criminal prosecution brought against a defendant. The property used in or brought about because of the crime must be indicted along with the person facing charges.

You Have the Right to Defend Yourself

You have the right to challenge this seizure of your property. You also have the right to defend yourself against the charges at trial. Because you have a right to trial by jury, per Ohio Revised Code § 2981.08, you are advised to seek legal counsel promptly. We can assign a defense attorney to your case who can help you with your legal strategy. Joslyn Law Firm attorneys understand the state and federal laws involved in criminal forfeiture cases. 

We will speak with you about your case to get your side of the story during a confidential meeting. We will explain any legal challenges you could be up against while working on a legal strategy that could achieve the outcome needed to rebuild your life.

We Are Ready to Take Your Case

Founding attorney Brian Joslyn understands that it can be overwhelming to face criminal charges. He also understands the difference legal counsel delivering a sound defense can make. You may not have a lot of time to ensure your vehicle is not submitted for forfeiture proceedings, so we encourage you to call us as soon as you can.

If you have been arrested on criminal charges and are facing seizure of a vehicle that is up for forfeiture in the Hamilton County, Ohio, area, call (513) 399-6289 today to speak to us about your situation during a free consultation. We want to get started working for you.


Back to top

Seizure of Vehicles of Forfeiture in Cincinnati, OH, Information Center


Back to top

Overview of Seizure of Vehicles of Forfeiture in Cincinnati

Law enforcement agencies can seize property that: 

  1. Was used or believed to have been used to commit criminal activity
  2. Was an instrument used to carry out illegal activity
  3. Was obtained through illegal means

As the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office explains, “property that is used to facilitate the commission of criminal acts or which constitutes the proceeds from criminal activity, is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the seizing law enforcement agencies.”

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, every year, thousands of dollars are seized from drug traffickers and others convicted of crimes. Motor vehicles are among the items commonly forfeited to law enforcement agencies.

Vehicles Seized for Forfeiture Must Meet Certain Criteria

Authorized personnel with the Cincinnati Police Department are in charge of processing property the department has seized or has received for forfeiture. Certain conditions must apply for law enforcement to seize an owner’s vehicle and its contents. Before law enforcement seizes a vehicle, officers must have probable cause or reason to believe they have come upon illegal contents of any kind, including:

  • Money
  • Vehicles
  • Other property that has been obtained illegally through or used in an activity that is a felony

Under Ohio Revised Code § 2933.22, “probable cause” applies when “conditions exist upon such property which are or may become hazardous to the public health, safety, or welfare.” Contraband (Ohio Revised Code § 2901.01(A)(13)) includes various items, including: 

  • Controlled substances (drugs)
  • Unlawful devices or paraphernalia, including those used for gambling
  • Dangerous weaponry
  • Obscene materials

How Cincinnati’s Police Department Handles Vehicles Seized for Forfeiture

As explained by the City of Cincinnati’s procedures, Federal and State Forfeitures § 12.735, motor vehicles are forfeited only if:

  • The vehicle’s owner is charged with a felony offense or an administrative violation in which they used the vehicle as an element. An example of this would be if the owner was engaged in an activity that exhibited the permitting of drug abuse, as outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 2925.13
  • The vehicle’s owner is charged with a felony offense or an administrative violation in which they used the motor vehicle to commit a felony offense.

Authorities Have 72 Hours to Return Seized Vehicles if Charges Do Not Apply 

The motor vehicle can remain in authorities’ custody while they are pressing charges. If neither of the conditions above applies, the motor vehicle and its contents must be returned to the owner within 72 hours. If the seizing officer needs more time to complete an investigation, they will need to officially request additional time. 

The FBI explains that a forfeiture order is issued after a defendant is convicted of the crime or pleads guilty.

How a Lawyer from Our Firm Can Help with Forfeiture Proceedings

A forfeiture order may be issued after the offender has been given an opportunity for a hearing (Ohio Revised Code § 4503.234). The prosecuting attorney is also required to give the alleged offender written notice that the individual’s vehicle is facing forfeiture. This notice can be a traffic citation or a written notice. The person facing charges should receive this notice no fewer than seven days before the forfeiture order is issued.

An attorney from Joslyn Law Firm working on your behalf can contact the authorities to inquire about the forfeiture to find out why the vehicle was seized and what charges you face. They can represent you as you prepare for trial.


Back to top

Penalties for Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Cincinnati 

There are penalties in situations involving vehicles that have been seized for forfeiture. In Ohio, if authorities arrest a person and seize their vehicle, they should receive a written notice that their vehicle is being held. If law enforcement arrests them after driving a vehicle that is not theirs, the authorities will notify the registered vehicle owner by mail that their vehicle is in possession.

Under Ohio law, a vehicle owner cannot assign or transfer a title to a motor vehicle subject to criminal forfeiture. If it happens, the arrested person may be fined the value of the vehicle. (Ohio Revised Code § 4510.41(2)).

You Could Lose Your Vehicle, Even if You Are Not Facing Charges 

Even if you were not directly involved in the alleged criminal activity, you could lose your vehicle if authorities believe it was involved in or used to commit a felony offense. If this is your situation, you may also want to consider securing legal representation.

You may be able to get your vehicle returned to you if you can show you did not know it would be used to facilitate or commit a crime (Ohio Revised Code § 4503.234 (B)(2)). Our law firm can help you seek to have your vehicle returned to you.

Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture and OVI

In Ohio, offenders charged with driving under the influence face stiff penalties, including having their vehicles forfeited, depending on how many offenses they receive.

Driving while operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) is a crime in Ohio, and it is one the state takes very seriously. OVI penalties also prohibit individuals who lost their vehicle to forfeiture from selling it.


Back to top

Defenses Against Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Cincinnati

These cases are often complex, so seeking counsel from a defense attorney from our team could be in your best interest.

Our defense attorneys can review the details in your case and determine what legal path you can take. Your defense is unique to your case, as it would depend on the circumstances and details of your situation, but it could include any of the following reasons:

Your Seized Vehicle Was Not Connected to or Involved in a Felony

When local, state, or federal authorities seize property, they must have probable cause or reason to believe the property was involved in or obtained through illegal activity.

If we can show you were not involved in committing or facilitating a felony offense or that your vehicle was not obtained through illegal means, your defense lawyer could seek to have the charges against you dismissed.

A Lack of Evidence or Inadmissible Evidence

The prosecuting attorney will need to show you are guilty of the charges brought against you. A defense attorney can challenge the evidence presented and ask if it is relevant to your case or reliable enough to hold up in court. If a judge finds the evidence in your case inadmissible, then your attorney can move to have your case dismissed.


Back to top

Additional Resources for Seizure of Vehicles of Forfeiture in Cincinnati

Ohio Revised Code § 2981.02 - This section of the Ohio Revised Code outlines the state’s laws concerning any property subject to forfeiture, including motor vehicles. Use this as a reference to learn the types of property the state can forfeit and how the state determines if you used the assets or property to facilitate or commit a crime. 

Asset Seizure and Forfeiture: A Basic Guide This article by the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin explains the difference between asset seizure and forfeiture, which it says are commonly used interchangeably but mean different things. The guide aims to give readers a basic understanding of the two processes and the techniques and best practices law enforcement uses.

A Plan for Ohio’s Criminal Asset Forfeiture Law The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission’s report explains forfeitures under the state’s criminal code for drug offenses, gang activity, contraband, and other illegal activities. It aims to make forfeiture laws easier to understand, using clear terms and providing simpler guidance on what is forfeitable.

Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office - You can find information on how to reach the supervising prosecuting attorney and learn where the proceeds from forfeitures are donated after they enter law enforcement’s custody.

Cincinnati, Ohio, 12.735 Federal and State Forfeitures - Here, you can read the policies and procedures governing how seizing authorities with the Cincinnati Police Department handle property that enters its custody. This document also explains the entire process, from what happens during the pre-seizure investigation to how the property forfeited by the police department is distributed.


Back to top

Recent News Stories About Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Ohio

April 23, 2021

Shane Hvizdzak Named in Alleged Money Laundering Scheme

The Bradford Era recently reported that Cleveland resident Shane Hvizdzak and his company are part of a federal investigation into an alleged scheme involving money laundering and drug trafficking. The U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks to forfeit various kinds of property, including vehicles, the publication reports.

April 27, 2021

Athens County Woman Facing Trafficking, Other Drug Charges

Shannon M. Dickens, a resident of The Plains in Athens County, Ohio, was charged with drug trafficking after a recent traffic stop, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports. Dickens, who was driving on a suspended license, had an active warrant out for her arrest. Authorities searched her vehicle and found methamphetamine, a substance suspected to be fentanyl, a deadly opioid drug, heroin, and money. Authorities say the amount of fentanyl found is enough to kill nearly 30,000 people. 

April 1, 2021

Judge Orders Forfeiture of Car

A federal judge in a Youngstown, Ohio, sex trafficking case ordered that the vehicle of Dr. Albert Aiad-Toss be turned over to government custody after his guilty plea to seven counts of sex trafficking in February 2021, according to a report from The Vindicator. The vehicle was involved in four of the offenses, the publication reports, which involved children ages 12 to 15.


Back to top

Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture in Cincinnati FAQs

Q: Why Does Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture Happen? 

A: Seizure of vehicles for forfeiture happens when government officials suspect that a person’s vehicle was either obtained illegally or used for illegal activity. Criminal forfeiture is a punitive action, and it usually takes place after a defendant is convicted of an offense.

Felony forfeiture can occur if:

  • The vehicle was involved in illegal activity, such as drug trafficking, which is a felony
  • The defendant used the vehicle as an element or part of a plan to commit a felony
  • The defendant purchased the vehicle with monies obtained through illegal means (such as a car or boat bought with money made from drug activity)

Q: What Is Probable Cause, and How Does It Apply to a Forfeiture Case?

A: State and federal authorities handling forfeiture cases are legally allowed to seize property if they find reasonable evidence that the property is connected to or involved in illegal activity. Per the Legal Information Institute (LII), you can find probable cause in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is a condition that must be satisfied before authorities make an arrest, conduct a search, or receive a warrant.

Q: When Can Law Enforcement Authorities Forfeit Your Car in Cincinnati?

A: If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe you used your vehicle in a felony offense, they can seize it and provide it to the Cincinnati Police Department for forfeiture. Per the City of Cincinnati, the police department will not seize a citizen’s money or property unless the individual faces criminal charges. Law enforcement must return the vehicle to the owner if they do not press charges within 72 hours.

Q: What Property Can Be Subject to Forfeiture?

A: Per Ohio Revised Code § 2981.02, any illegal items (contraband) involved in an offense, or proceeds that came about or were obtained through the commission of an offense, can be eligible for forfeiture. This can include drugs, guns, stolen goods, etc. They can also be forfeited if they are used in or intended to be used to commit or facilitate a felony or a misdemeanor in which state law or a municipal ordinance has authorized forfeiture as a penalty.

Q: Do Fourth Amendment Rights Apply in Seizure and Forfeiture Cases?

A: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still protects defendants facing criminal charges. This amendment protects individuals against unlawful searches and seizures of their personal property by law enforcement except for in situations where probable cause applies. The Fourth Amendment also protects against being searched without a warrant.

You do not have to consent to a search if authorities do not present a warrant. Each criminal forfeiture case is different, but if you believe your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated in your forfeiture case, you can speak with a member of our team who can review your case and offer counsel on what your next steps should be.


Back to top

Seizure of Vehicles for Forfeiture Lawyer in Cincinnati, OH

Joslyn Law Firm’s criminal defense attorneys can manage your seizure of vehicles for forfeiture case. Our lawyers will represent you, defend your interests, and help you get your day in court. A conviction can mean you will lose your vehicle and other contents seized.

It could be in your best interest to seek legal representation if you intend to fight your case. Give us a call today to get started at (513) 399-6289.


Back to top