General Question

bluedoggiant's avatar

Will police confiscate my $300?

Asked by bluedoggiant (648points) July 12th, 2014

Hey guys. Long story short I was hit with a marijuana distribution charge. This went down during a traffic stop and my car was towed later on and they’re not releasing it yet because it is being searched again. I assume this is mainly for inventory reasons, and that if they find more narcotics, it will be used against me or whatever. There may be a small amount of money ($300) hidden in a book in the glovebox.

If they find this, and I imagine they will since theyre supposed to document everything in the car, will the $300 be returned to me or assumed to be part of the drug trade?

Keep in mind the vehicle is registered in my fathers name, whose a renowned doctor on the east coast.

Thank you very much.

EDIT: side note, they kept asking me if the car was paid off, what importance did that question have?

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34 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It was your father’s car, some states take ownership of the vehicle. It is not just your $300 but everything in the vehicle that becomes police property not to be returned. They sell vehicles or use them for police chase vehicles.

johnpowell's avatar

The hidden in a book in the glovebox part is pretty bad. If I was dealing dope from my car I would probably stash the cash there too. If someone robs you in a deal gone wrong they might not check there.

But really, 300 bucks is the least of your worries right now.

Unbroken's avatar

This is just speculation., But I believe that if they did confiscate the money they would have to prove should you desire to fight it, that the money was actually earned by the illegal sale of marijuana. The fact is that the money could very well be your fathers and cash is harder to trace. So I think you will get it back. Though since you are going to have pay for the tow and storage of the vehicle they might ask if you want to apply the amount to the accumulated fines. Even if you don’t pay for retrieval of the car there are court cost fees that you will owe. But make sure the money is applied toward the fees if you can prove you obtained the money legally.

As far as if there is a lien holder on the car they might have an obligation to notify the lien holder. Sometimes the vehicles get abandoned at the impound lot. In which case they will hold the vehicles while storage fees accumulate for a given time. Then the vehicle will be auctioned off. Or that was the case over 10 years ago in my state. Though my vehicle was paid in full and under my name so it was all very straightforward.

Anyway the best way to answer the question is ask them directly. It is important to go directly to the source and remember that even though the structure of the laws today assume guilt that you are still technically innocent until proven guilty.

Regardless of that drug charges are ridiculously over penalized and society today is just beginning to recognize that. Don’t let them make you feel like a criminal they don’t have the right. Hopefully your state laws are more lenient and presuming this is your first incident you will in worst case get a misdemeanor. They can’t deny you rights. And your right is always to be informed but if you don’t make sure you are they won’t hold your hand and feed you pertinent information.

bluedoggiant's avatar

The money was just slipped in the leather booklet that contains the manual that most cars come with. It was hidden in a normal way people keep cash in their glove boxes for emergencies. I imagine most people will find that a convenient place to hide. It wasn’t hidden in a way not to be found.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Assume you have lost your dad’s car and all its contents, because by law that could happen. If you get anything at all back, consider that a bonus.

johnpowell's avatar

Do you mind sharing how you are not in custody right now? Did someone post bail?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

This happened to a friend of mine after a cop found a roach in his ash tray. He never got his car back. They are asking because they intend to seize it. If it’s not paid for the bank will probably get it and auction it. I’m assuming you just had a bag and were not actually running drugs. If you were running narcotics they should take it and you probably deserve what you get. If you just had your personal stash of weed this is the most chicken-shit, corrupt bull crap that law enforcement does. No excuse for this practice when it’s small potatoes. I hear stories like this and makes my blood boil. Get a good and local lawyer ASAP!

johnpowell's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me :: I think that is probably why they were asking about the car being paid off. It sounds like they intend on keeping it.

Oregon is pretty loose with weed (just a ticket) until they say distribution. They will happily take the car and even your house if you dealing from home.

CWOTUS's avatar

I would assume that it is very likely that the car and all of its contents, except perhaps entirely personal effects, maybe work-related items and items that clearly don’t belong to you (except the car) will very likely be confiscated and forfeit.

The issue here is “asset forfeiture”, which has been a tried-and-failed method for curtailing drug trafficking for many years, but for just as many years proven as a tried-and-true method for enriching local and state police departments. Some states have worse reputations than others in this regard. I recall reading in the past few years about some terribly egregious examples from Tennessee, for example. (In fact, in most of the worst cases, drugs weren’t even in direct evidence, but people stopped for completely non-drug related causes who were found to be carrying large amounts of cash – usually 1000s of dollars – were “assumed” to be on the way to a drug buy, and the cash was simply taken.) The legal reasoning is that “the property does not enjoy Constitutional protection”. What’s worse is that the person who becomes so victimized then has to mount a lawsuit of his own to recover the forfeited property.

Massachusetts had a bad example recently – since overturned, but the case took years to resolve – where a mom-and-pop motel where rooms were sometimes used for prostitution and drug deals was simply taken from the owner in an asset forfeiture case. The motel owner had to mount a long, drawn-out and expensive suit to recover his property in a case where he had done nothing wrong. (How many motel owners are in position to know everything that goes on in their rooms?)

For these reasons I expect the police to take your father’s car and your cash and anything else that could conceivably be tied to “drug trafficking”. They don’t need to make an ironclad case; you will be the one who has to sue for its return. (That’s why they wanted to know if the car was paid-for, because if it hadn’t been, then they know they’d have a big fight with the finance company, and they don’t want that fight.) You and your dad? Yeah, they’ll take you on.

I expect this because, as you say, this is a “marijuana distribution” charge, meaning drug trafficking. You won’t see that car again, I think, unless your father is willing to pay an attorney more than the car is worth (and be willing to air dirty laundry in public court about your probable drug dealing) to get it back.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The REALLY big question is which police department where?

filmfann's avatar

What $300? (whistles)

I think if the car is not paid off, the bank lender is notified.

pleiades's avatar

Marijuana is still illegal? Haha damn so lame!

But yeah the 300$ will be confiscated.

Paradox25's avatar

It depends on the state, but most likely your $300 is going to be a forced donation to the anti-weed fascist trust fund. I don’t think it would had mattered if your money was hidden in suspicious circumstances in a suspicious manner or not, but this is just an extra thing that doesn’t make you look good. There are several details that you’ve left out, like your state, the circumstances leading up to your arrest and the amounts involved.

Personally speaking losing my $300 would be the least of all my worries here. I’d be celebrating if that’s all I’d lost here. You’re likely looking at a felony charge being on your record, serious prison time if your state has mandatory minimum laws, a massive fine, probation, issues with your parents/loved ones and losing your father’s car, losing your driver’s license for a long time, the stigma associated with ‘drugs’ being on you now, etc.

I think these anti-drug laws are pathetic beyond belief, including both mandatory minimums and asset forfeiture laws. I can’t believe beyond everything in me how more people are not outraged that the authorities can legally, both civilly and criminally, seize everything you’ve worked for your entire life due to drug issues. Ironically they don’t seize the vehicles of DUI offenders though. People never care until bullshit it happens to them or their loved ones.

bluedoggiant's avatar

state of MD. My father called the sheriffs department and will have to speak with my arresting officer monday night regarding the vehicle. It is apparently set to be released but there is some type of hold.

Could just be BS for were taking your car but we’ll see.

Thanks for the answers all.

cazzie's avatar

If they are asking if the car is paid off, they are looking at keeping it and selling it for court costs. If it is not paid off, they will, legally, need to notify the holder of the loan, because, in most cases, car loans are secured against the value of the car, and if they sell it without notifying the current credit holder, they would be guilty of a crime, called ‘Auto conversion’ or ‘Car conversion’.

If you don’t make a claim to list the contents of the vehicle (I think they will give you an opportunity to do this) and you don’t list the cash and who it belongs to, you will absolutely NOT see it again. If you list the money, you may see that again, but they could also make the case, as a fair enough assumption too, that it was money earned from the sale of drugs and forfeit. Your dad may have to sign something saying it is his money, and not yours, but this stuff is very State Drug Law specific. Get a lawyer.

Better call Saul. You are in the shit.

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GloPro's avatar

I’m so curious. Did you have several baggies in a backpack? Was there any cash in the backpack or in your wallet?

Lightlyseared's avatar

Sounds like they’ve already confiscated the 300 bucks.

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bluedoggiant's avatar

dang. I thought the people here at fluther were nice and non judgmental, looks like a lot of y’all have attitudes and are being demeaning to me! not nice!

just to rub it in everyones face, I have the car back, with my $300 in it.

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cazzie's avatar

I’m really glad you got the car back, and the rest. I really am not on the side of the archaic drug laws. My comment wasn’t to demean you, but simply say that even the smartest person can make mistakes that mess things up for themselves and do things they end up regretting. I’ve seen MENSA members fall apart, hit rock bottom and it isn’t pretty and it is such a waste. When you mentioned you were a student at Georgia Tech, it reminded me of my boyfriend’s students and how we would feel if it was one of them.

It would be such a shame if you lost opportunities over a silly thing like a drug conviction. It is easy to take things for granted when you are young. My motherly instincts just want you to be careful and not get into trouble. I want to you to study hard and be brilliant. I hope you can forgive me for coming across as judgmental, that wasn’t it. It was true concern.

Did you need a lawyer in the end or did they just drop it?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Good to hear. You probably live in a reasonable community then… or have a good lawyer. The big thing is does it stay off your record and did you learn from this?

El_Cadejo's avatar

If @bluedoggiant used his get out of jail free card (conditional discharge) then it would stay off his record baring he doesn’t get into any more trouble over the next year.

bluedoggiant's avatar

@cazzie Case is far from resolution, it will be months before anything moves forward. I do have a lawyer, the release of the car is independent of the case. @ARE_you_kidding_me

Lawyer thinks I’ll likely get charges dropped, PBJ, or normal probation. Either way he anticipates the felony to get dropped.

jca's avatar

After you finish paying the lawyer off, @bluedoggiant, you’ll hopefully have learned from what you did wrong, because I am guessing the total cost for him will be about 5k.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@bluedoggiant That’s great news, don’t let it happen again.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bluedoggiant if you haven’t been in trouble for drug charges before and it hasn’t been discussed, I really do urge you to look into conditional discharge.

bluedoggiant's avatar

@jca total cost is actually over $10k.

@El_Cadejo I’m sure my attorney would bring it up if it is an option.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@bluedoggiant you may ask your attorney about a diversion

jca's avatar

@bluedoggiant: OK. I hope the 10k you’re spending (or your daddy’s spending) is enough to make you reconsider whatever kind of lifestyle you were leading.

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