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Contraband Forfeitures

One of the best ways to understand the procedures used in forfeiture cases in Hillsborough County, FL, is to read Section 4 of the administrative rules found in order S-2017-067. The administrative order was on December 14, 2017, and took effect on January 1, 2018.

The administrative order sets out the requirements for the assignment of the probable cause application, the process for forfeitures, the confidentiality of the application or affidavit, and complaints filed in the Circuit Civil Division.

Tampa Attorneys for Forfeitures in Hillsborough County, FL

The contraband forfeiture attorneys in Tampa, FL, at Sammis Law Firm represent clients after their assets are seized by local, state or federal authorities. If you have any questions about the procedures used in Hillsborough County for any pending forfeiture case then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A.

Call 813-250-0500.

A. Assignment of Probable Cause Application

When a seizure of property is made under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act in Hillsborough County, FL, the seizing law enforcement agency must timely apply ex parte to the presiding judge of County Criminal Division "C" for an initial order determining whether probable cause exists for the seizure of the property.

B. Process for Forfeitures

Applications and orders will be filed in the Clerk's Administrative Files via the following process. Law enforcement agency attorneys will submit their application via e-mail to the judicial assistant of County Criminal Division "C" who will forward the application to the clerk of court for assignment of a Clerk's Administrative File number.

Upon the judge determining whether probable cause exists for the forfeiture, the judicial assistant will notify the law enforcement agency attorney, request an appropriate order be submitted, and provide the Clerk's Administrative File number that has been assigned to the application.

The law enforcement agency attorney will then submit a proposed order through the Judicial Automated Workload System (JAWS) using the Clerk 's Administrative File number. The proposed order will then be automatically submitted to the judge's work queue on JAWS.

C. Confidentiality of the Application or Affidavit for Forfeiture

If the law enforcement agency wishes the court to seal any portion of the application or sworn affidavit, it must e-mail to the judicial assistant of County Criminal Division "C" a separate Motion to Determine Confidentiality of Court Records simultaneously with the application.

In accordance with the procedure outlined in Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(e), the application and sworn affidavit "must be treated as confidential by the clerk pending the court's ruling on the motion."

Upon the judge making a decision on the Motion to Determine Confidentiality of Court Records, the judicial assistant will notify the law enforcement agency attorney, request an appropriate order be submitted, and provide the Clerk's Administrative File number that has been assigned to the application and motion.

The law enforcement agency attorney will then submit a proposed order through the JAWS using the Clerk's Administrative File number.

D. Complaint Filed in the Circuit Civil Division

If the seizing law enforcement agency files a complaint to proceed against the contraband article, the complaint will be filed in the Circuit Civil Division.

All adversarial preliminary hearings under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act will be scheduled in an assigned division of the Circuit Civil Division. See Administrative Order S-2016-061 (Circuit Civil Division Procedures) or any successor administrative order.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 11, 2018.