Minnesota forfeiture laws require a conviction of a drug crime before the government can permanently take any property associated with the controlled substance. However, the conviction requirement only applies if you challenge the seizure of property by filing a civil case against the property WITHIN 60 DAYS. By contrast, federal law and many other states still allow forfeiture of property without any conviction, regardless of whether challenged.
Law enforcement still have the the authority to seize property immediately if they suspect the property is somehow connected to illegal narcotics, even if criminal charges are not filed. However, they must provide a document titled, “Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Property” on the owner of the property. The notice must also list the specific property seized (e.g. cash, vehicles, firearms, jewelry, etc.)
YOU MUST SUE IN CIVIL COURT TO CHALLENGE A SEIZURE
Once the rightful owner of the property receives this Notice, that is when a civil suit must be filed within 60 days challenging the forfeiture. If you do not challenge the forfeiture in time, you give up your rights to the seized property. Unfortunately, filing a case to challenge a forfeiture typically requires payment of significant filing and attorney’s fees to ensure there are not any procedural or legal errors in the case filing.
Once the seizure is challenged in a civil case, a conviction is required, and the government has the burden proving the seized property is related to the controlled substances.