We’ve all heard the stories – people’s homes invaded by officers who have a warrant to search for evidence they suspect will be there. They show up, turn the place upside down, and leave with boxes full of that person’s belongings. There goes the laptop, the cell phone, and a wad of cash that was hidden in a sock under the mattress. But where is it going? What happens when the cops seize your stuff, and when are they going to get it back? These are the million dollar questions people all over East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Farmington Hills are asking. So let’s see if we can find a few answers, shall we?
Where does your stuff go when the cops seize it?
When the police enter your home or business with a search warrant, they are there to look for and gather evidence of a crime. The warrant means a judge has given them permission to look for anything tied to illegal activity that can be used to prove your guilt in court. Anything they seize and take away with them will be catalogued and kept in boxes in the evidence room for as long as the case is ongoing. That could be months, and in some cases, years.
What about my fourth amendment rights in Michigan?
It’s practically impossible to talk about search and seizure, without also addressing your Constitutional rights. Specifically, your Fourth Amendment rights, which protects you from ‘unreasonable’ search and seizure. In addition, the Fourth Amendment also sets out the requirement for police to get search warrants from a “neutral and detached” court official based on probable cause.
How do I know my stuff is safe while the cops have it?
In short, you don’t. Your possessions will be handled, looked at, and discussed by officers involved in the investigation. But they’re not the only ones. Forensic techs, CSI specialists, and sometimes even people working for the prosecutor’s office all have access. You have no control over who has access, and how long they keep it for. In a perfect world, everything will be carefully handled, treated with respect, and returned as quickly as possible. In reality, items sometimes get lost, mislabelled, or damaged. Lots of evidence was ruined several years ago while in “safekeeping” with the Ingham County Sheriff. Drug evidence turned up missing in Detroit. That is the unfortunate truth.
How soon can I get my stuff back?
As we mentioned before, everything the police seize as evidence during an investigation gets kept for as long as the case is active and all appeals have been exhausted. There is no time frame attached to that, because every case is different. It could be two months, or a year, or three years. It all depends on how big and involved and complicated the case is. People living in Grand Rapids, Holland and Bay City, have all experienced really long wait times when it comes to getting their personal belongings back after an investigation. If items taken by the cops are necessary for you to live life, or do your job – like a laptop, or a cell phone, you may want to consider replacing those items for now. Discuss your options with your defense attorney to make sure you’re in the clear.
Make sure your rights are fully protected during a Michigan investigation!
Join us next time for the rest of this discussion, with more info on the difference between search and seizure, and why in some cases people never get their stuff back! Until then, if you’re being investigated by the cops anywhere in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan including in Lansing, Howell, Kalamazoo or Jackson, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our aggressive and highly skilled criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience protecting clients rights, and defending them against police abuses. Don’t wait – contact us right now to ensure that you have the best defense possible against all allegations and charges. We can be reached 24 / 7 by calling 866-7NoJail.