99-06: Seizure of a vehicle for forfeiture
Case: Florida v. White, U.S. Supreme Court

Date: May 17, 1999

FACTS: In Case Law Update 98-03, it was reported that the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a seizure warrant is necessary to seize a vehicle for forfeiture. That included a vehicle parked in a public area. The decision was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

RULING: The United States Supreme Court reversed the ruling by our state court. They held that as long as the vehicle is located in a public place, a warrantless seizure of the vehicle does not violate the Fourth Amendment. NOTE: The vehicle in this case was located in the parking lot of the business where the owner worked. If the vehicle is on private property, consult with your legal advisor for the proper method of seizing it. Also, the case was remanded to the Florida Supreme Court. They may decide to require a warrant anyway based on other constitutional considerations (such as due process). If that occurs, another case law update will be published to let you know.

For Further Information Contact:
Steve Brady
Regional Legal Advisor
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Orlando Regional Operations Center