In re 24,000 in United States Currency – 11/29/2007

December 4, 2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Reaffirms that Probable Cause To Forfeit Assets is Determined Not at Time of Seizure but At Time of Hearing and Holds that Drug Package Profile can Contribute to Probable Cause.

The State of Arizona, unopposed, challenged the Superior Court’s denial of an application for an order forfeiting $24,000 of alleged drug proceeds to the State. The Superior Court had found that the State’s application lacked probable cause linking the cash to the sale of illegal drugs.

Reversing and remanding, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed that in reviewing the State’s application, the Superior Court was to evaluate probable cause as of the time of the hearing, not as of the time of seizure. See In re U.S. Currency in the Amount of $26,980, 193 Ariz. 427, 430 (App. 1998). In this case, the Arizona Appeals Court also reiterated that the probable cause determination is made from the totality of the circumstances. Furthermore, the Court held that a law enforcement “Drug Package Profile” can contribute to the totality of the circumstances.

Applying the totality of the circumstances in this case The Court of Appeals held that the Superior Court erred in denying the application and the Appeals Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Judge Johnsen authored the decision in which judges Thompson and Ehrlich joined.