Wednesday, October 20, 2010

de facto forfeiture proceeding contrary to law (10 20 10)

Toledo police executed a search warrant on the defendant’s home in Lucas County. They seized almost three thousand dollars from the home along with marijuana and cocaine. Eventually, the State dropped the charges but the police still had the money. So the defendant filed a motion to get his money back. The prosecutor failed to file a timely action seeking forfeiture of the money pursuant to R.C. 2981.03(F). But the defendant owed court costs he accumulated in prior cases. The trial judge decided there was no way he was going to hand this money over to the defendant when the defendant had not paid what he owed for other cases. The judge helped the defendant pay off his debt by applying part of the three thousand to the debt and giving the defendant the rest. Reasonable, right? The Sixth District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court. It said there was no legal basis for the trial court to do what it did. The State dropped the ball in failing to file a civil forfeiture action. The trial court could not make it right without any statutory authority authorizing its actions. State v. Williams, 2010-Ohio-5029.

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