A disturbing trend has emerged recently in Delaware of seizing cars and money at the time of a stop and possibly arrest. Police can, and do seize these items even though there may not be a clear link between the items seized and the crime that is alleged to have occurred.
Typically these seizures will occur concurrently with an arrest of someone selling drugs. While it is possible that the money or car were earned as a result of some criminal enterprise, it is not necessarily the case. What is most disturbing is where there is no connection whatsoever.
Recently I received a call at my office by a young black gentleman who was stopped in Bridgeville Delaware. This young man was stopped and searched and was not charged with a crime. He was however relieved of approximately $1,500 for which he could not immediately prove how he acquired it. The reason stated by the police for this seizure, he was previously convicted of a drug offense, so it must be drug money.
This gentleman, like others, is not without recourse. However in order to attempt to have his own money returned, he has to file for it in Delaware Superior Court, including paying the filing fee. He would also have to attend status conferences and try the case. This being exceptionally difficult because he was from New York, not exactly convenient for him. He would also be well advised to hire an attorney, however this would cost him more then he would recover should it go to trial and he would be unable to recover for those fees.
Delaware needs to reform these seizure laws and hold these police officers accountable for these armed robberies they perform in the name of the law, and allow for speedy recover of money funds illegally seized.