Forfeiture presumption does not apply to dog sniffs

20 02 2014

In $70,000 v. State, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed the trial court for applying a presumption in a forfeiture hearing.  Under A.C.A. 5-64-505(a), State has the ability to claim any money that is used or intended to be used in a transaction involving illegal controlled substances (subject to a few exceptions).  In deciding whether the money should be forfeited, the legislature has created a rebuttable presumption in favor of forfeiture that applies if the money is in close proximity to the illegal substances.  The trial court applied the presumption in this case; however, no illegal substances were ever found.  The trial court relied on a drug dog alert on the money to invoke the presumption.  The Arkansas Court of Appeals relied on the plain language to insist that there had to be actual drugs in close proximity to the money to invoke the presumption.  Thus, the case was reversed and remanded for a new determination.


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