Asset Seizure & Forfeiture

If your vehicle or other property has been seized by police in the greater Memphis, TN area, you need a knowledgeable and confident Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney who will fight to protect your rights and freedoms.

Under the laws of civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement agencies can confiscate property they have reason to believe that you have used, intended to use, or obtained in connection with a crime. Controversially, the police can keep your property even if you never get charged or convicted of a crime. The court process for recovering your property is not only expensive, it puts the authorities at an advantage.

In Tennessee, police can seize your vehicle and property after a raid or an arrest. the state can seize certain personal property related to a crime or criminal investigation. As your Memphis seizure attorney, I will steer you through the process for the best results possible in your case. 

Call (901) 552-6228 today to schedule a consultation with Attorney Joseph Pehanick.


Seizure and forfeiture proceedings are civil actions, despite initiating from an arrest for a criminal offense. The basis for a seizure proceeding to take your property is the allegation that the property was connected to criminal wrongdoing.

You need to act fast to protect your rights. Forfeiture hearings differ from other criminal proceedings because it is an Administrative Court with different rules and different burden. To effectively defend your constitutional rights and defend against forfeiture of your property, you need an experienced Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney with knowledge in state and federal seizure laws. Our legal team has the experience necessary to help you understand the complex rules and regulations of the Tennessee Department of Safety and a proven track record in defending property seizure cases.

If your vehicle or other property has been seized by police, you need a Memphis Criminal Defense Lawyer who will fight for your fundamental rights. Because seizures can result in forfeiture of property, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight to challenge police procedure and prevent a forfeiture of rights. Our firm has successfully defended many vehicle and property seizure cases in Tennessee.


What can be seized?

Any cash, vehicles, or other property used in the commission of illegal drug sales. Vehicles used in the commission of criminal acts such as DUI, Driving on Revoked License, or Patronizing Prostitution may also be seized. 

What happens when my property is seized?

A Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture Form is given to the person in possession of the property being seized. Police must show probable cause for a Judge to issue a Forfeiture Warrant. Once a warrant is signed, the case is submitted to the Tennessee Department of Safety Legal Division, who will notify by certified mail any person who may have an interest in the property. In order to contest the forfeiture, a claimant must ordinarily file a petition to return the property within 30 days of receipt of the certified mailing from the Department of Safety. The claimant must include with the petition the anticipated court costs or cost bond as security for the court costs. Failure to file a claim within this period, may act as a waiver of any right to recover the property. Once a petition is filed, the case is set for hearing to determine the disposition of the property. Parties are encouraged to negotiate a settlement prior to the hearing. 

What if the vehicle has a lien holder?

If a lien holder is listed on the title of a seized vehicle and this lien holder files a claim, a hearing is not set. The State’s Attorney will review the case and verify the lien.  An Order will then issued forfeiting the property to the seizing agency subject to the lien. This allows the vehicle to be returned to the lien holder to satisfy the lien, or for the seizing agency to keep the vehicle and pay the lien holder their respective lien.

For more FAQ’s visit the Tennessee Department of Safety website