Hey there! Welcome back and thanks for joining us here at The Kronzek Firm for this discussion on search and seizure law here in Michigan. As we mentioned in the previous article, people who have their personal belongings confiscated by the police as evidence during an investigation usually have a lot of questions – justifiably so – about how their stuff is being handled and when they’re going to get it back. Whether you live in Lansing, Howell, Mt. Pleasant, Ann Arbor or the Metro Grand Rapids area, it’s tough to see a whole lot of your private items being walked out the door by the cops. But we’re going to try and bring some clarity to the situation for you. so hang tight…
After it’s taken as evidence, how soon can I get my stuff back?
As we’ve mentioned before, everything the police seize as evidence during an investigation in Michigan gets kept for as long as the case is active and all appeals have been exhausted. There’s 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 Big Rapids, Saginaw, Holland, Tuscola and Bay City, have all experienced really long wait times when it comes to getting their personal belongings back after a criminal 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. Sometimes we can obtain a court order for the police to return your personal items more quickly.
I’ve heard the cops sometimes keep your things forever!
There have been cases where evidence has been lost or misplaced, and in those cases (obviously) you won’t be getting your stuff back. This could be because evidence isn’t being properly signed in and out of the evidence storage room. Or, it could be simply because so many different people are handling it during the investigation that it gets mislabelled, or shelved in the wrong spot. There are also instances where items are damaged during the course of an investigation. An item of clothing may have portions cut away to test for DNA, blood spatter, or certain chemicals. In those cases the items may be returned to you but are now unusable and have to be thrown away.
There are certain circumstances where the cops don’t have to give your stuff back after they took it as evidence.
If the items seized by the police were contraband, for example illegal guns or drugs, then they will not return them to you under any circumstances. If the items seized are believed to be tied directly to the sale or distribution of illegal drugs – like money and vehicles – the police may file a forfeiture proceeding against you. Depending on which specific statute the government is using to justify their claim, and what the property is in particular, you may have the right to contest these proceedings. However, the sooner you talk to an attorney, the better! You need to know exactly what your rights are, and what time limits you may be up against in your case!
Don’t let your rights be trampled on during a Michigan police investigation!
Having your personal belongings confiscated by the cops is both scary and a major inconvenience. But while you may lose your stuff, you should NEVER lose your rights! If you or a loved one believe that your rights are being violated, or that an officer conducted an illegal search of your property which has lead to criminal charges, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys immediately at 866 766 5245. It’s critical that your attorneys be notified and involved as quickly as possible, to ensure that your Fourth Amendment rights are protected. Our phones are answered 24/7, including on weekends and holidays. You can always reach us during a crisis or during business hours by calling 866 7NoJail. You can read more about our team at AggressiveCriminalDefense.com