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If the state is trying to seize your property and keep it, call Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale at 918-277-4800 to schedule your free initial consultation. You’ll also get a custom-made defense strategy plan to take with you.
Asset forfeiture occurs when the state takes your property and try to keep it forever because of things that you’re using the property for illegal purposes. In one case the state filed an action against the owner of the car and his son. Only the father answer the states petition. He less that he was the owner of the car and that any use by his son involving controlled dangerous substances was without consent or knowledge. The state did not controvert that the owner is the record owner of the automobile. At the forfeiture hearing, the state adduced evidence regarding factors of ownership with the sun. The contended that son was the owner for the purposes of forfeiture statutes. The trial court found that the state failed to show that the sun was the owner of the car, but instead the father was the owner. The trial court held that the state failed to show that the father had knowledge of his son’s illegal use of a car.
Forfeiture statutes must be strictly construed. Forfeiture will not be decreed except when required by clear statutory language. With regard to the ownership of the car, the father testified that he was the sole and record owner of the car and had been since its purchase. He further testified that he paid for the car and that his son had contributed nothing towards the purchase. The father also stated that he allowed his son to use the car to go to work and for other purposes, but that his son is not the sole driver of the car.
To support his contention that the sun was the owner of the car for purposes of the forfeiture statutes, the state argues that he exercise exclusive custody and control over the car. However the argument is inconsistent with the evidence, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. While there is ample evidence that the sun was the predominant user, that evidence falls short of exclusive control and custody.
The state also relied on the evidence that the sun, not the father, maintained insurance on the car and held himself out as the owner when the insurance was purchased. But, even presuming that the sun considered himself to be the lawful owner, his assertions do not determine that issue. For purposes of forfeiture, ownership is not defined by statute. The state did not cite any oh, decision defining the term for that purpose. The state did not does demonstrate that the legislature intended for dominion, custody and control to be exclusive criteria for defining ownership of property.
The dissent held that the majority’s reversal is based on the states contention that the trial court erred when it placed the burden of proof on the state to demonstrate that the owner had knowledge of his son’s illegal use of a car. This person should get the best Tulsa criminal defense attorney.
Assuming that the trial court improperly placed the burden on the state, the dissent argued that the appellate court should decline to consider this contention. The state asked the appellate court reversed the lower court based on this alleged error. However it provided no legal authority to support its contentions. Additionally the finding was made in open court without objection or comment by the state. Any error was known to the state and should been brought to the lower court’s attention with a trial court could’ve corrected its error. Additionally, the defendant met his burden of proof. The Father’s lack of knowledge was sufficiently demonstrated by his testimony, the dissent said. Further, the evidence officially establish that the father was the owner of the seas car. He was not only the owner of record, but the only evidence of record on the point shows that the sun’s use of the car was at the pleasure of his father.
The father testified that he had no actual knowledge that his son was going to conceal or transport marijuana in the car. He testified that he had canceled his son against drug involvement, specifically against using any of the family cars in that involvement. He threatened to take away the car if the sun was further involved with drugs. Father testified that his son promised they would do it again if he was allowed to drive the car. The dissent said that clearly the father did not get permission to his son to use the car in violation of drug laws.
The majority opinion held that constructive knowledge is sufficient under the law. As a consequence, a held that because the father was aware of his sons prior involvement in illegal drug activities, he should not have believed his son when the sun stated that he would refrain from any further illegal activities. At the time of the case, there was no Oklahoma authority in support of constructive knowledge or consent. To find constructive knowledge sufficient, as the majority this case had done, it would open up the possibility of seizing any car of any parent who had a child that was in trouble with drugs.
The evidence did not establish that the son’s initial use of the car was permissive. The appellate court has construed the unlawful possession praise to hold a non-owners possession is unlawful, even if the initial use was permissive, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. If the owner did not know the property was going to be used for unlawful purposes, and one would think that that was proper.
Establishing a person was an innocent owner is fact intensive. That means that there will have to be a lot of detail in testimony given at trial. Some the factors that might be considered are who’s name was on the title of the car. An additional factor might be his name was on the insurance for the vehicle. An account of someone not having permission to use the car may also be important, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.