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Recently, two very interesting (and similar) cases passed across my desk. Two independent motor vehicle dealerships contacted Jacobs & King to represent them in cases involving government seizure of automobiles. In both cases, the dealership sold a vehicle to a customer and months later, the customer was arrested for some crime and the vehicle was seized because it was allegedly used in the commission of the crime.
Once seized, the vehicle is held by the arresting agency as they investigate the crime. In the meantime, the dealership is stuck – usually the customer has stopped paying, the dealership has a lien on the vehicle, and the vehicle is behind some locked gate collecting dust and depreciating in value. This is obviously bad news for the dealership – their asset is losing value! The other bad news for the dealership? Recovering these vehicles takes time.
To make matters worse, the dealership has little choice. Either take the time, effort and energy to recover the vehicle, or watch as the holder declares the vehicle abandoned and gains legal title to it. In the two cases referenced above, the clients wanted to get their vehicles back. In order to do so, we communicated with the appropriate sheriff and police departments, the district attorneys, and the courts. In one, we even had to file a petition with the court to obtain possession. After the dust settled, we obtained both vehicles. If you are a dealer facing a police seizure, contacting a local attorney is probably your best option. Hopefully you, too, can retrieve your vehicle before it is too late.