It’s very important for people in Maryland to know that it is possible for the government to seize assets in certain situations. This is often known as a civil forfeiture.
One distinction that needs to be made is that the civil forfeiture is officially targeted at the assets themselves. It is not thought of as the result of a proceeding against the person who owned the items. What this means is that the government seizing assets is not considered to be a punishment for that person, but an independent action.
Of course, the seizing of assets is often connected to a criminal case. In many instances, these cases involve drugs, though not always. For example, if someone is accused of using a car to transport drugs and then the police make an arrest, they may also take the car as evidence. The loss of the vehicle is not part of the person’s punishment if they are convicted in court, but is a separate event.
Additionally, the government can take items that may have played a role in the manufacture or distribution of the drugs, guns that were found as part of the drug bust and more. In some cases, the government could even take property and real estate. This could happen if an entire building was used to manufacture drugs before shipping them out, for example.
When setting up your criminal defense, if you have been accused of such crimes, you have to know not only what the authorities can take from you but what rights you may have to ask for those items back after the conclusion of the case.
Source: The People’s Law Library of Maryland, “Can the state take my stuff? Seizure and Civil Forfeiture of Property” accessed Mar. 06, 2015