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When are assets at risk of civil asset forfeiture in South Dakota?

Any interaction with police officers could turn negative quite quickly. People could end up temporarily in state custody and then facing criminal charges. Whenever police officers suspect that an individual is committing or has committed criminal activity, they use their discretion to determine how to handle the situation.

Usually, they need to decide between arresting someone right away or gathering evidence and then revisiting the issue later. Sometimes, police officers may also seize the personal property of those implicated in a criminal incident. Civil asset forfeiture is the legal term for police officers depriving someone of their assets because of their potential relationship to criminal activity. Assets may be vulnerable to forfeiture claims in South Dakota under the following circumstances.

When the state can tie them to criminal activity

Police officers executing a warrant related to embezzlement or involvement in the drug trade may seize certain assets while searching a property and arresting an individual. Such seizures are permissible when the state believes that someone has either used those assets while committing a crime or purchased them with the proceeds derived from criminal activity. When the state has evidence tying certain assets to criminal conduct, individuals could very well lose those assets due to civil asset forfeiture.

When someone has too much cash on hand

Civil asset forfeiture rules are unfortunately very easy for law enforcement professionals to abuse. One of the many scenarios in which perfectly innocent people face the loss of their property is when they have a large amount of cash.

Those with legal resources can carry as much cash as they want on their person at any given time. Anything more than $10,000 in currency would require disclosure if someone were to cross international borders, but state lines don’t necessarily trigger the same rules. Yet, police officers may find anything more than a few hundred dollars to be suspect.  Unfortunately, those driving to another state to purchase a collectible or a purebred pet could end up losing the cash they needed for that transaction to police officers during a traffic stop.

People affected by civil forfeiture are often (rightfully) shocked to learn that the state does not need to convict them over time for their property loss to be legal. People facing civil asset forfeiture can fight back, although the process can be very technical and complex. Yet, seeking legal guidance and learning more about South Dakota’s civil asset forfeiture laws may help people determine the best way to regain control over their seized property.