Successful Seizure And Forfeiture Cases

As property seizure and asset forfeiture attorneys we fight to get your property back. The following is a sampling of cases in which we successfully secured the return of our client’s property from the police and state authorities.

Case: In the Matter of one Chevy Silverado and $6,969.00 in United States Currency

Location: Pottawattamie County, Iowa

Property Seized: 2008 Chevy Silverado Pickup, $6,969.00, 2 lap top computers, 2 IPhones and other property.

Our clients in this case were stopped for "speeding". Specifically, the police alleged our clients were travelling 58 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 80 near Council Bluffs, Iowa. They were targeted because of their out-of-state license plate. After searching our client’s vehicle, Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Miller and members of the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force seized 116 pounds of marijuana, our client’s truck, cash, computers, phones and a myriad of other property. Our client was charged with felony possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

We filed an application for return of seized property. Additionally, we filed a motion to suppress evidence in both the criminal case and the forfeiture (seized property) case. The motion to suppress alleged several 4th Amendment violations and asked the court to exclude all evidence found as a result of the 4th Amendment violations. We prevailed on the motion to suppress. As a result, the criminal charges were dismissed and all of our client’s property was returned.

Case: In the Matter of $177,273.00 in United States Currency

Location: Pottawattamie County, Iowa

Property Seized: $177,273.00

This case was remarkably similar to the one above. Deputy Miller stopped our client for travelling 73 mph in a 70 mph zone on Interstate 80 near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Again our clients were from out of state. Likewise, Deputy Miller searched our client’s vehicle and located a quantity of controlled substance as well as $177,273.00 in cash. Our client was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver.

We filed for the return of seized property as well as a motion suppress again asserting 4th Amendment violations. After the first day of trial on the motion to suppress, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, the state made a settlement offer which our client ultimately accepted. Our client pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and the State agreed to return $88,636.50 (half) of the cash it seized from our client.

Case: State of Iowa vs. Stephen J. Hanrahan

Location: Poweshiek County, Iowa

Property Seized: $51,000.00

In this case, our client, Stephen Hanrahan, was stopped by Iowa State Trooper Eric Vanderwiel for travelling 74 mph in a 70 mph zone. Trooper Vanderwiel is part of the Iowa State Patrol Criminal Interdiction Team (since renamed the Special Operations Unit). This unit of State Troopers is a special assignment within the Iowa State Patrol. Their job is to patrol Iowa’s interstate highways for criminal activity. They target and "interdict" out-of-state motorists. Mr. Hanrahan was stopped, interrogated and his vehicle was searched. A marijuana joint and $51,000.00 cash was seized. He was charged with possession of marijuana.

We filed for the return of the cash. We also filed a motion to suppress alleging 4th Amendment violations as well as violations of Article 1 Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. We lost the motion to suppress in the trial court. We then appealed the case to the Iowa Court of Appeals who ruled in our favor concluding, "In the absence of reasonable suspicion, the vehicle search violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution and all evidence garnered in the search should have been suppressed." Thus, the Court of Appeals overturned Mr. Hanrahan’s minor possession conviction and ordered his money be returned to him. (Click here to read the Court of Appeal opinion).

Case: In the Matter of one 2004 Black Cadillac Escalade

Location: Polk County, Iowa

Property Seized: 2004 Black Cadillac Escalade

In this case, the brother of our client was caught selling drugs out of our client’s Escalade. Our client lived out of state and had loaned the vehicle to his girlfriend. He had no knowledge his brother was using the vehicle, let alone to sell drugs. Members of the Mid Iowa Narcotics Task Force seized the Escalade and the Polk County Attorney’s Office brought forfeiture proceedings against it. We filed for return of the property asserting that our client was an innocent owner because he had no knowledge of his brother’s use of the vehicle. This is known as an innocent owner defense. Under Iowa law when a person prevails on an innocent owner defense the State must pay their attorney’s fees. After trial on the matter, we prevailed on the innocent owner defense, obtained the return of the vehicle and the State paid our client’s attorney’s fees.

Case: In the Matter of one 2004 Dodge Ram

Location: Polk County, Iowa

Property Seized: 2004 Dodge Ram

In this case our client purchased a 2004 Dodge Ram off of craigslist. The individual who sold our client the vehicle apparently bought it with stolen money. The Polk County Attorney’s Office sought to forfeit the vehicle claiming our client had no right to possess it. We filed for return of the truck and asserted a version of the innocent owner defense which protects good faith purchasers. Since our client had no knowledge the vehicle was originally purchased with stolen funds, he purchased the vehicle innocently and in good faith.

The case proceeded to trial and after one day the State dismissed the forfeiture action and returned the truck to our client. The state also agreed to pay our client’s attorney’s fees since he would have prevailed on his innocent owner defense had the State not dismissed the case.

Case: In the Matter of a Beretta Handgun

Location: Polk County, Iowa

Property Seized: Beretta Handgun

Our client had his Beretta Handgun seized during a welfare check. The police indicated that anytime such a call came through and there were fire arms present they were required to seize the firearm. When our client attempted to get his handgun back the police refused without a court order, though they had no legal basis to keep the gun. We filed for return of the property and the court ordered the return of the handgun, over the State’s resistance, because the police had no legal basis to keep the gun.