Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

What Happens to Items Seized by Law Enforcement

Boston law enforcement recently recovered seven illegal handguns in eight hours. As a result of this discovery, nine individuals were arrested for various firearm offenses after the loaded weapons were confiscated in Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. The arrested individuals between the ages of 19 to 49 who came from areas throughout Massachusetts.

One of the most common questions that people who are charged with criminal offenses in Massachusetts ask besides where one can find an experienced criminal defense lawyer is how to get property back following seizure by law enforcement. The answer to whether you can expect to see items confiscated by law enforcement again depends on the nature of the property. Whether you will be able to get your property back is influenced by the reason why the item was seized in the first place. The following reviews the four possible paths for property following confiscation by law enforcement.


Contraband is property that is confiscated because it is against the law to possess it. Some of the most common examples of contraband include counterfeit money, illegal drugs, and illegal firearms. If property is classified as contraband, it will be held as evidence until your case is over, at which point the property might be destroyed. Your lawyer will be made aware of any contraband items and will likely examine the items before trial. If your lawyer can argue that possession of the items was lawful, you might have the item returned. Otherwise, the item would likely be destroyed during trial.


The prosecution has the power to temporarily hold property that is believed to have been used in the commission of a crime or is the product of a crime. Law enforcement can also seize property that is believed to have been evidence of a crime even if a person is not arrested, charged, or convicted.


Civil asset forfeiture is a process that allows the government to seize cash and assets that are believed to have been acquired or used from criminal activity. The process allows law enforcement as well as prosecutors to seize property without arresting or charging anyone with a crime. If a person loses their forfeiture in a civil case, law enforcement is permitted to keep or sell the property. Unfortunately, there are various cases of law enforcement misapplying forfeiture powers.


If you had valuables on you at the time that you were arrested, law enforcement will often take these items and hold them until you are released to prevent them from being stolen. In most cases, you will need to provide the appropriate voucher as well as government-issued identification before these items are returned to you.

Speak with a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm-related offense in Massachusetts, it is in your best interest to promptly retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R Molari.