What to Do If Your Vehicle is Seized

January 27, 2012

There are numerous reasons why a person could have their vehicle seized. One common reason is that the person defaulted on his or her car payment. Under the law, the creditor has every right to seize back the car until the person has the financial ability to pay it back.

Another common and darker reason is that the people have committed a crime that involves the use of the car. Examples of such crimes will include drug trafficking, driving under the influence (DUI), loss of life and property when using the car and flouting road rules. In this case, the government has the right to take ownership of the car. This is known as vehicle forfeiture. The government will auction off the car and the proceeds from the sale will either go to the co-owner of the car or it will go to compensate relevant parties that were impacted by the crime.

There are ways to get the car back legally, but prepare for potentially lengthy court battles and lawyer fees. Decide if the lawyer's fee that you might need to pay is worth the effort.

Step 1: Hire a Lawyer

The first thing to do is to hire a lawyer. Hire one that specializes in dealing with cases such as this one. Look for reputable lawyer firms on the Internet and newspaper ads. Call the firms and decide which one is best suited to your budget.

Step 2: Check to See If the Creditors Have Abided by the Law

Depending on the cause of the seizure, the approach in preparing the defense will be different. If you default on your payment and the creditors seized your car, there are ways to mount a defense. If the creditors resort to brute force or physical violence, then you have the right to ask the court for any compensation for any grievances done against you. The creditors cannot just enter your garage without your permission and take the car. That would be a breach of your home security. Another thing to take note is that if you and your creditors agreed on a late payment, then the creditors have no right to take back your car. The creditor must also inform you if he or she intends to sell the car.

Step 3: Defense against Forfeiture

The law states that if a person is able to prove that his or her car was used by a non-owner of the car, or that the car was not involved in the crime, the court will award the ownership of the car back to the person. Normally, if you are able to produce sufficient documents that the car was used by another person and you own the rights to the car, the court should award you back the car.

Step 4: Preparation

The most important aspect is to always prepare before going to court. Discuss strategies between you and your attorney. Be sure to always remain calm and don't say anything that might damage your credibility. Answer all questions truthfully and don't commit perjury.