Recently, a client had $188,000.00 seized from him by the Iowa State Patrol and federal authorities during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 80/35 in Polk County, Iowa. The State of Iowa, through the Polk County Attorney's Office, began forfeiture proceedings in Polk County District Court to attempt to permanently deprive our client of the seized money. We fought back and were very close to securing the return of the seized cash when, at the 11th hour, the State of Iowa decided to transfer the forfeiture to federal authorities at the United State Attorney's Office. This transfer was of questionable legality but, none-the-less it occurred.
Federal authorities, through the United States Attorney's Office, then began federal forfeiture proceedings. A federal forfeiture proceeding, as a general proposition, takes much longer than its counterpart in state court. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate with the United State Attorney's Office for the return of 80% of the seized cash. Why 80% you ask? Well, federal authorities were under no obligation to return any of the money and could have proceeded with their lengthy forfeiture process. Furthermore, if federal authorities had pursued their forfeiture, there were only two possible outcomes: forfeiture to the federal government of all seized monies or a full return of the seized cash to our client. While we believe the latter to have been the most likely result, our negotiations secured a guaranteed, quick return of most of the seized cash. Thus, while our client did not get all of the seized money back, a large portion of the seized cash will be returned quickly without having to fight like hell in federal district court and without running the risk of losing it all. Good outcome, happy client.