How does the government make your property their property?

August 26, 2016

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Civil asset forfeiture is the mechanism by which the State of Indiana can claim your property, whether it be money, real property, vehicles, or other personal property, and make it their own. They do so in one of three ways, a standard civil forfeiture under Indiana Code § 34-24-1-1, a RICO or corrupt business influence forfeiture action under Indiana Code § 34-24-2-1, or as a federal turnover under Indiana Code § 35-33-5-5(j). Each has specific requirements and procedures that must be met by the State of Indiana to perfect their claim to your property. And each type of action allows the State of Indiana to keep your property for their own benefit.

Currently, the federal government and the State of Indiana in Indianapolis, Indiana, will periodically have local police officers with K9 officers patrol the warehouse at the FedEx facility at the Indianapolis Airport. This is deemed to be legal by the government as the FedEx facility is an international hub, and customs regulations allow for the federal government to inspect packages potentially shipped internationally. If the K9 officer “alerts” on a package, whether shipped internationally or domestically, that package is pulled out of circulation. The police officer is supposed to request a search warrant to open the package; specifically looking for drugs or drug related items (such as ledgers, scales, paraphernalia, or U.S. Currency), along with other items commonly associated with drug trafficking.

If the package contains U.S. Currency, even without any other items relating to the drug trade being discovered, the police officers will seize that property and a forfeiture action is filed on behalf of the State of Indiana. If the U.S. Currency is over $10,000.00, the State of Indiana will request those funds be turned over to the federal government. If the U.S. Currency is under $10,000.00, the State of Indiana might file a state forfeiture action against the property. The amount of U.S. Currency collected and forfeited in this way is extensive.

This FedEx forfeiture practice has never specifically been addressed by the Indiana Appellate Courts and the turning over funds to the federal government has only recently been addressed in Adams v. State of Indiana, back in 2012. If your money has been taken by the State of Indiana, you must act quickly as the deadlines to respond and protect your money is only 20 days from the date of the filing of a forfeiture action or a turnover request.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.