G. Thayer Williamson Your Drug Crime Attorney

Asset Forfeiture in Texas

Most people think that in Texas crimes are prosecuted in accordance with the Texas Penal Code. This assumption is true in most cases. However, in Texas, drug crimes are prosecuted under the Texas Health and Safety Code. The Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure still apply, but the punishment range is set by the TX Health and Safety Code. Recently, I have noticed a disturbing trend regarding asset forfeiture. Forfeiture has long been used in drug cases, however law enforcement has recently been using the forfeiture laws in all types of felony cases. This trend is especially true in East Texas and the I-30 corridor. For example: a citizen travels to Shreveport for a weekend of gambling. Upon returning home, the citizen is pulled over for speeding. In addition, the Officer has a drug dog that alerts the Officer to a possible narcotic. After searching the vehicle the Officer has discovered two thing: 1) $5000 in cash, and 2) a half smoke marijuana cigarette. The citizens is the arrested for possession of marijuana AND his vehicle and cash are forfeited! Many people ask: " How can they do that?" The simple answer is that law enforcement can seizure and forfeit all "contraband" used in the commission of a drug crime. Article 59.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure broadly defines contraband as:

Article 59.02 provides in part that "Property that is contraband is subject to seizure and forfeiture under this chapter." Thus, law enforcement can seize and forfeit any all property that meets the previously stated definition of contraband. Just because law enforcement can seize property, does NOT mean that law enforcement will be successful in forfeiting that property! You have rights! You are entitled to a hearing, and the government must prove to a Judge that the property is in fact contraband. In addition, to fighting the forfeiture, you must also fight the underlying criminal charge.

If you or a loved one have been arrested please call my office. In addition, if your property has been seized and is subject to forfeiture, please call my office. A strong defense is always the best offense. If you do nothing to protect your rights, you have guaranteed that your case will most likely be lost.