An online computer sex sting called “Operation Intercept” charged 31 men with various sex related crimes in Sarasota County. One of the charges facing those arrested includes “Travel to Seduce, Solicit or Entice a Child to Commit Sex Acts.” Because of something called “The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act,” anyone caught in this sting could also lose their car or truck. Media reports say the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office is initiating forfeiture proceedings for many of the vehicles driven to the sting location. That means the 31 men arrested could be facing civil cases to get their vehicles back in addition to fighting their sex offense criminal charges.
How Does Forfeiture of your Car or Truck Work?
The courts have to show that there’s a relationship between your car and the crime you’re charged with, but they don’t need any hard proof at first. In this case they’ll probably say that you drove the vehicle to the scene of the sting, and that’s good enough for them to seize it. Hearsay and circumstantial evidence are enough at this point according to the law. Eventually the government will have to officially send you a notice of the forfeiture telling you about your rights to a preliminary hearing, but by this point you’ll be stuck finding another way to get around.
What to Do Next?
Reports in the Sarasota Herald Tribune say, “the team of investigators that conducted Operation Intercept were not inclined to be lenient.” Law enforcement taking such a hard stand means it’s important to hire a tough attorney who has experience in sex offense cases AND in civil law. Mark Zimmerman has helped get back thousands of dollars in seized property for his clients while successfully defending them in high profile criminal cases. Contact Mark to talk with him about the charges you or a family member are facing. It’s important to get legal help right away, right now. You can reach Mark Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online contact form.