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Federal Adoption

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Federal Adoption of Seized Assets in Ohio

What happens if a law enforcement officer with a state agency seizes U.S. Currency? In that case, an agency at the state or local level will issue a receipt immediately after the property is seized. If a federal agency seizes the property, then the receipt will list a federal agency.

If an agency at the state or local level seizes the property and issues a receipt, then the forfeiture will proceed under state law in Ohio unless the money seized is transferred to a federal agency pursuant to R.C. 2981.14.

In Ohio, task force officers are assigned to the DEA and empowered to conduct federal investigations and to assist the DEA in connection with federal civil forfeiture laws. The task force officer might decide to seize U.S. Currency on behalf of the DEA as part of a criminal investigation and for potential civil forfeiture.

Federal law permits federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to accept property that “was lawfully seized by a State or local law enforcement agency…” 18 U.S.C. 981(b)(2)(C).

When the federal agency is adopting a state seizure, the task force officer must sign a Property Control document in order to take custody of the currency on behalf of the DEA. Other required forms include the “Request for Adoption of State or Local Seizure,” which is an internal Department of Justice form.

Attorney for Federal Adoption Forfeiture Cases in Columbus, OH

If your money or property was seized by a local or state level law enforcement officer, the federal government might seek to “adopt” the forfeiture case. If the federal government adopts the forfeiture, then you have a limited amount of time to file a verified claim for court action (early judicial intervention) which bypasses any administrative forfeiture.

Attorney Brian Joslyn is familiar with the tactics used by police officers with the Columbus Police Department, including their standard operating procedures for seizure and forfeitures.

If so, you need a civil asset forfeiture attorney in Ohio who can contest the lawfulness of the initial detention and seizure of the money or property. If the courts allow a federal agency to adopt the forfeiture case, we can help you make a verified claim under 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(2).

Call (614) 444-1900.


Requirements for the Federal Adoption of Forfeiture Cases in Ohio

The civil forfeiture statutes of Ohio do not require a court order for a law enforcement agency to seek federal adoption. Instead, R.C. 2981.14(A) provides:

Subject to division (B) of this section, nothing in this chapter precludes the head of a law enforcement agency that seizes property from seeking forfeiture under federal law. If the property is forfeitable under this chapter and federal forfeiture is not sought, the property is subject only to this chapter.

R.C. 2981.14(B) provides that no state agency shall directly or indirectly transfer any seized property to a federal law enforcement agency unless the “the value of the seized property exceeds one hundred thousand dollars… or the property is being transferred or referred for federal criminal forfeiture proceedings.”

For example, in United States v. $677,660.00 in United States Currency, N.D. Ohio No. 5:11 CV 770, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12948 (Feb. 2, 2012), the court reviewed challenges to the lawfulness of a seizure of currency by a police department in Ohio who requested that the DEA adopt the case and wherein the DEA initiated administrative forfeiture proceedings.

According to Columbus Police Division Directive 6.03 on Seizure/Forfeiture, if a federal action occurs subsequent to the initial seizure, law enforcement officers with the Columbus Police Department must seek approval from the Public Accountability Subdivision Deputy Chief before releasing assets to any federal law enforcement official.

During joint local and federal investigations, law enforcement officers with the Columbus Police Department must fill out the Seizure/Forfeiture Notice & Receipt, form I-20.111 for any direct seizures made by federal law enforcement officials.

In those cases, law enforcement officers with the Columbus Police Department are not allowed to turn the federally seized assets into the Property Control Unit (PCU) or the Police Impound Lot without prior approval from their bureau commander. Instead, they must forward the completed Seizure/Forfeiture Notice & Receipt to the Seizure/Forfeiture Unit by end of their tour of duty.


This article was last updated on Monday, April 19, 2021.

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