A resident of Lee County, Florida has been arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Christopher Ted Duluk is accused of pulling at least one motorist over through the use of an illegally equipped vehicle. His vehicle was seized after his arrest. It is not yet known if the accused is represented by an attorney or plans to retain an attorney.
Law enforcement alleges that Duluk, using a 2009 Bentley equipped with police-style lights and sirens, attempted to pull over at least one person. Furthermore, the Bentley was equipped with antennas, a yellow official state of Florida license plate, and a device which is used to measure speed similar to the kind often used by law enforcement.
Duluk’s motivations for thus equipping his vehicle and for allegedly pulling someone over are not known. It does not appear as though he is accused of any wrongdoing, such as theft, of the person he purportedly pulled over.
The car was considered property used to somehow commit or aid the underlying offense. It was seized under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. This law allows law enforcement to seize assets or property under in the commission or furtherance of a crime. One of the crucial aspects to Florida forfeiture law is that property cannot be seized until the owner is arrested for a criminal offense involving that property.
Despite this stipulation, civil asset forfeiture has been decried by some activist groups which gave Florida a “D+” regarding the laws and related topics. From 2009-2014, the state amassed over $117 million in combined currency, real property, and vehicles through this practice incidental to criminal cases. Florida law currently requires law enforcement agencies to file a yearly civil forfeiture report detailing what has been seized.
However, that is not the only way forfeiture financially impacts the state of Florida. By participating in the U.S. Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program, the state has received more than $400 million in these funds, which amounts to around $30 million for each year the state has been participating in this program. Similarly, the state has also claimed in excess of $100 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the same program, amounting to more than $7 million a year. This has demonstrated that civil asset forfeiture is indeed a large part of revenue streams throughout the state.
Understandably, there may be a dark side to civil asset forfeiture. Some have alleged that part of the use of civil seizure and forfeiture rules has had the practical consequence of fattening local government or local jurisdictional coffers. With budget shortfalls across the state, it is not surprising that this allegation would be made. However, a review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that this is not a motivating factor in forfeiture actions. It seems, given the trend, that civil asset forfeiture and the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act will continue to be a large part of Florida’s criminal law enforcement practices.
South Florida Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney
If you are involved in a civil asset forfeiture case, then you should hire an attorney. Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of South Florida’s most experienced attorneys.