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How To Get My Property Back From The Police

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How To Get Back Seized Property

Can I Get My Property Back From the Police? Recovering Seized Property in New Jersey.

Seized property that isnt contraband or forfeited must generally be returned once the government no longer has a need for it. This might be as soon as charges are dismissed, or it could take as long as waiting for all related criminal proceedings to wrap up, which could include post-conviction motions, appeals, or a retrial. In other cases, the owner might need to take the matter to court.

How Can I Get Someone To Return My Property

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How Do I File The Forms

Your next step is to file the original of your Complaint with the District Court. The clerk will need your completed Summary Sheet, as well. You must pay the courts filing fee at this time .

Remind the clerk that your Complaint asks for a recorded hearing. You will need this record if you decide later to appeal the judge’s decision.

Once you have received the original Summons back from the sheriff’s office, file it with the Court Clerk also.

Keep copies of all your court papers to refer to at your hearing.

NOTE: If you are “filing” your papers with the court before “serving” copies on the Defendant, go back to information on “serving” the papers after you have completed this step.

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Passports And Driving Licences

If you are reporting a lost or stolen foreign national passport, please visit your local police station in person. Please check station opening times here before you attend.

Any other passports or driving licences should be reported directly to the Passport Office online or DVLA online.

Please note, if a passport or drivers licence is handed into the police station, they will be forwarded on to the DVLA or Passport Office. They will not be returned to members of the public for security measures.

Will I Be Asked To Pay All Of The Court Costs

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Yes. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee or the costs of service, however, you can get a form called Application to Proceed Without Payment of Fees and an Indigency Affidavit. Get these forms from any District Court clerk, or get them online . Fill them out and return them to the clerk. Your signature on the Affidavit form must be notarized. If the judge agrees that you don’t have enough money, you won’t have to pay the fees.

Get interactive versions of the forms here:

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This Information Was Last Updated: 17 April 2015


You are always entitled to your property back as long as it is not an exhibit, illegal or evidence in a case against you. The common problem is when are you entitled to get it back.

Property retained by the Police

Property which is taken from you at the police station and retained by the police could be analysed or used as evidence in the case.

If your property is confiscated it is usually held at the police station where you were arrested. Once the officer in charge of the case feels that your property is no longer needed, an officer should inform you that your property is ready for collection. However this does not always happen. Therefore it is very important that you always make a note of the following:

1. Name of officer in your case2. Your custody number when you were at the police station3. The date you were arrested and the property was taken from you

The above information will make it easier for you to secure the release of your property.

It is the officer in the case who has to release your property this is usually done in the form of an e mail to the property office at the police station giving consent for your property to be returned to you.

You can either attempt to get in contact with the officer in your case or alternatively contact the property office who then will email the officer in your case to see whether indeed your property can be released.

Property belonging to you usually comes in two categories:

There Are Two Types Of Property That Can Be Taken From You When You Are Arrested:

  • The property in your immediate possession for example personal items such as your lighter, wallet or purse, etc. If the police find the property holds no evidential value to your case it will be returned to you as and when you leave the police station. No illegal substances can be returned to you.
  • Property which can be deemed as evidence such as computers, phones, tablets or any other electronic device that need to be analysed, items of clothing or objects such as knives or something which could be seen as a weapon or item to assist in committing an offence. Also, large amounts of money found in your possession may be subject to an investigation. There is separate legislation that deals with the seizure of cash, which is a complex and separate issue.
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    What Happens To Items Seized By Police

    What happens to items seized by police is determined on a case by case basis. Generally speaking, when the police seize a personâs property, it is up to the propertyâs owner to prove that the property was âinnocent.â What this means is that the property was not linked to any crime.

    If the police seize property during an arrest, they are legally required to provide the propertyâs owner with a receipt. This receipt should note which items the police have in their custody. On a similar note, if the police seize the property during a search warrant, they must complete an itemization of the property they seized. This is referred to as a search warrant return, which must be filed with the clerk of courtâs office within 5 days of the date in which the police executed the search warrant. A copy of this return is available after the fact, either from the clerkâs office or in discovery, if criminal charges are issued.

    Recovering Your Property From The Police

    Getting My Property Back From Police

    Clients often ask us how they can go about having their property returned to them by the police.

    The police seize property routinely in the course of investigations. Property can be seized from you at the police station or through a search of premises. Those items will be retained by the police to be analysed or for a decision to be made about whether it will be used as evidence in the case.

    If your property has been seized during an investigation or proceedings before a court, you are entitled to recover it from the police as long as it is not an exhibit, or of an illegal nature .

    For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

    Once your case has finished and the officers have no further need for the items, they can be released to you.

    Your property is normally held at the police station where you were arrested.

    If the officer in charge of the case is of the opinion that the items are no longer needed, they will not always inform you that they can be collected. That is why having proactive solicitors is very important. Sometimes, an application needs to be made to a court for an order that property be returned.

    You should make a note of the following details in order to arrange the return of your items of property :

  • The name of officer in your case,
  • Your custody number,
  • The date of your arrest,
  • The date the property was taken from you.
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    How Do I Bring A Complaint For Summary Proceeding To Recover Personal Property

    You must file a Complaint with the District Court where:

    • You live,
    • Where you had your personal property when you were renting, or
    • Where your personal property is now.

    If you don’t know which court to file in, call any District Court Clerk. Ask for the name and address of the District Court that serves on of the above locations.

    Things You Wont Get Back

    If the item is being used as evidence in a crime investigation, you will usually not get it back until the matter has been closed. You may never get the item back.

    If the police get approval for a civil forfeiture, they don’t have to return the item. Civil forfeiture gives police the right to keep your property if it seems more likely than not that:

    • the item was paid for with money gained through crime, or
    • the item was used to commit a crime.

    A judge decides if something is more likely than not by using a test called a balance of probabilities

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    When Can Seized Property Be Returned

    Commonly, electronic devices such as mobile phones are seized by police either at the time of arrest or when executing a search warrant. It is not uncommon for police to retain such devices particularly where the owner of the device has been charged with an offence. For this reason, it is important to explore how long items, such as a mobile phone, can be seized for and when such items can be returned.

    Generally, a police officer is required by law to return property to the owner or person who had lawful possession of it if the officer is satisfied that it is not required to be retained and that it is lawful for the person to have possession of it.

    If the seized item is evidence of an offence and a police officer considers it appropriate, the police officer must take steps necessary to minimise the need to retain the item as evidence. This is achieved by either taking a photograph, arranging for a necessary test or examination of the thing .

    However, a police officer may retain a seized item for a reasonable period of time after if necessary to:

  • prevent a person using the thing to cause harm to himself, herself or someone else or
  • prevent an offence or a breach of the peace happening.
  • Found Or Returned Property

    Arkansas State Police EUP 9.3

    What items can I hand in to police?

    We can only take and record the following items as found property:

  • Items that may contain personal data, for example mobile phones, computers and tablets
  • Cash within wallets that are identifiable
  • Unidentifiable cash
  • Items suspected of being involved in crime
  • Drugs
  • Chemicals
  • If you have found a firearm, ammuntion or an explosive device, please visit our dedicated page to find out what to do.

    You can also hand in the following identifiable documents:

    • Passports
    • Personal documentation such as bank statements and benefit books
    • Birth, marriage and death certificates
    • Driving licences

    If the item you have is not on either of the above lists, we will most likely not be able to accept it.

    Ive found an item that is not on the above list, but I still think the police should record it. Can I hand it in?

    Obviously, we cannot predict what could be handed in at a police station. Therefore there could be times where an item is handed in and it be absolutely appropriate for us to take a record of it. Our front office staff will always use their professional judgement when dealing with an item that has been handed in but is not on the normal list of items we take reports of.

    What happens when I hand a piece of property in?

    When you hand in the item of property, you will be given a ticket with a property number on it.

    Please note, if we think the item contains personal data, you will not be able to claim it as your own.

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    What Do I Do With My Completed Forms

    Next, you need to file and serve the papers. First make one copy of each form and one more copy of the Complaint and Summons . You will give the originals to the court clerk.

    You can either serve the papers first, or file the papers first. If you are asking for a fee waiver , then you will need to file first . If you are going to pay the court fees and service costs yourself, then it is easier to serve, then file. Follow the steps outlined below.

    Getting A Vehicle Back

    Your ability to collect an impounded vehicle will also depend on whether that vehicle is hired and whether its roadworthy.

    If its hired, it may help if the hirer contacts the hire company. The hire company may be able to get the vehicle back from the Police more quickly than you can, but they may also not be particularly co-operative. This can be expensive if the hire company continues to charge you for the vehicle.

    Alternatively, you could send your hire documents to the Police to evidence the urgency of its return, but beware this could be used in evidence against you and/or the hirer. That said, if the hire company information is displayed on the vehicle, the Police will likely be able to find out who hired it from the hire company fairly easily.

    Vehicles are usually kept at the pound. The Police may claim that you are responsible for the charges while the vehicle is at the pound, but you should challenge this.

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    What Happens To Property If It’s Not Claimed

    For the most part, when property without a known owner is remitted to the Ottawa Police Service, Evidence Control Services stores that property for 90 days. Found bicycles are kept for only 30 days. If the property is not picked-up during the hold period, it may be sold or, depending on its condition, disposed of.

    Currently over 90 federal Departments and Agencies dispose of everything from computers, office equipment, vehicles as well as military equipment like ships and planes through GC Surplus.

    For more information, visit GC Surplus or Rideau Auctions.

    Property Subject To Forfeiture

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    When police seized property used or involved in an illegal activity, state or federal law often allows the government to take the property and start forfeiture proceedings. If successful, the forfeited property becomes the property of the governmentmeaning the owner will not get the property back, even when the case is long over.

    Forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize and sell items such as cars used to commit or flee a crime. Police can also keep cash that represents the proceeds of a crime . When property is subject to forfeiture, time can be of the essence. Forfeiture can happen even before the owner has been charged with a crime, let alone convicted.

    Many laws provide for a hearing where the seizing authority must justify its retention of the property, such as by showing that the property was involved in a crime. But some laws put the burden on the property owner to file a motion and prove the opposite is truethat the property wasnt used in the offense or that the owner wasn’t aware of its illegal use by another. Either way, law enforcement will typically retain the item until the matter is settled.

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    Cars In Forfeiture Cases

    When police take property, they usually keep it while you go through the process to get it back. But if the police take your car, you can ask for it back temporarily while the proceedings are going on.

    To get your car back during the process, you have to file a motion within 7 days of the preliminary review or finding of probable cause. You will have to prove that not having the car will create a substantial hardship. For example, if you use your car to get to work, not having your car might cause you to lose your job. You have to include sworn, notarized affidavits. This means that you have to write down the reasons for not having the car will be a substantial hardship and then get that document notarized.

    The court considers the following when deciding if you can temporarily have your car returned to you:

    • The nature of the hardship
    • Your access to public transportation
    • Other options you have to overcome the hardship

    If you prove that you will have a substantial hardship without your car, the court will then decide if that substantial hardship is more important than the state’s interest in keeping the car. If they decide your hardship is more important, they will temporarily give you back the car assuming you:

    • Are the registered owner or the registered owner’s authorized designee
    • Provide proof of insurance and
    • Have a valid driver’s license.
    • Not taking the car out of the state
    • Not trying to hide the car
    • Not damaging the car

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