Mike Stucka at The Telegraph reports:
A Bibb County mother is protesting the seizure of her family minivan and about $15,000 she said she and her husband were saving to buy a home.
Though Oshun Lowe filed her objection to the forfeiture of the money and her 2005 Toyota Sequoia on Nov. 15, prosecutors formally filed for the forfeiture on Friday.
Prosecutors say the property was seized, along with more than 10 pounds of marijuana, from the Bay Point Drive home of Lowe and Perron Vashon Griggs near Lake Tobesofkee. Prosecutors said drugs were found Oct. 16 after Bibb County deputies searched her home.
Lowe said in her court filing that she’s a single mother with two minor children who needs the minivan and money.
She said the money had been saved over a period of time, and the minivan was not purchased with illegal proceeds or used to transport any illegal contraband.
Court records do not list any current charges for Griggs, who also does not appear to be in Bibb County’s jail. The records indicate he was arrested when the marijuana was found, and prosecutors and Griggs both agreed to bond of $30,000. Griggs is not allowed to contact any witnesses in the case.
Lowe and Griggs have 30 days to file an answer to the new seizure motion, court records suggest.
Georgia's asset forfeiture laws are very bad. The Institute for Justice gave Georgia's forfeiture laws a D-, noting that:
Georgia has terrible civil forfeiture laws and uses equitable sharing extensively. Under state law, depending on the property, the government need only establish probable cause or a preponderance of the evidence that the property was connected to illegal activity to forfeit it. You bear the burden of showing that the property is not derived from illegal activity or that you are an innocent owner. Even worse, law enforcement keeps 100 percent of the proceeds from any sales of seized property, which creates a strong incentive for law enforcement to seize property even in situations where it may not be warranted. And public oversight is limited: In response to requests, Georgia provided only one year of forfeiture data, for 2001.
A search of GeorgiaLegals.net found that there have been 18 forfeiture actions filed in Bibb County court in 2013.