How to Get Back Seized Property

As you probably know, police may seize property – with or without a warrant – if it believes the property has some potential evidentiary value. As expected, this leads to an abuse of the system. Police often seize property for no reason other than to harass the property owner. Without a notice of an intent to forfeit the item, there is only one recourse to getting that property back.

Pursuant to Minn. Stat. 626.04, a property owner may make a written demand for the return of the seized property. The demand must be made to the agency that seized the property and that agency has 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to respond. Upon said agency not returning the time (because, let’s be honest, it probably isn’t returning it that easily), the property owner’s only option at that point is to petition the court for the return of the property. The petition must be filed in the district in which the property is seized. A standard form can be found on the courts website.

There is a filing fee – around $300+ – associated with this petition. The district court will send a copy of the petition to the agency that has the property, but, out of an abundance of caution, it may not hurt to provide a copy of the petition to the agency when you file it with the court. A hearing should be held within 30 days, unless good cause exists to have it heard outside of 30 days. The state may request an ex parte hearing with the Court.

The court will order the return of the property unless it finds one of the following four circumstances to exist:

  1. the property is being held in good faith as potential evidence in any matter, regardless if charges are actually pending or not;
  2. the property may be subject to forfeiture proceedings;
  3. the property is contraband or may contain contraband; or
  4. the property is subject to other lawful retention.

If the property is ordered to be returned to the property owner, the owner is not responsible for any storage costs.

Importantly, if the property owner loses, the court may award reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees to the State. Coupled with the hefty filing fee, the costs and risk associated with bringing a petition are real to any property owner contemplating pursuing this petition. And this probably explains why the police have taken liberty in seizing unnecessary items – the consequence in doing so isn’t significant.

If you find yourself in this position, though, do not be deterred. A seasoned criminal defense attorney knows exactly how to attack the alleged reasons why the State needs the property. And with the help of North Star Criminal Defense, you can get back what is rightfully yours. Contact us today.