Q: WHAT HAPPENS TO MONEY SEIZED IN A DRUG BUST?
A: It depends. Generally the investigating law enforcement officer requests the money to be forfeited. In that case, we include a "forfeiture specification" in the indictment. If a plea agreement is entered, the defendant agrees to the forfeiture specification and the money is forfeited. If the case proceeds to a jury trial or a bench trial, the State must prove the money was used in furtherance of a crime or received as part of a crime. If the jury or judge agrees, the money is ordered forfeited. When money is forfeited in either way, the money is placed in the Law Enforcement Trust Fund of the investigating agency. 75% of the money goes to the law enforcement agency and is used for any criminal justice purpose (examples include training, purchase of equipment, new investigations); 25% of the money goes to the Prosecutor's Office and is used for the same purposes. If the money is not forfeited (for example if the defendant is found not guilty) the money is returned to the defendant.
WHO SETS THE BOND AND WHAT DETERMINES THE AMOUNT OF BOND?
The Judge sets the bond and determines the amount of bond. The Prosecutor's Office makes a bond recommendation based on the Defendant's prior criminal history, the seriousness of the crime, the Defendant's ties to the community, and the likelihood the Defendant will reappear for court. The purpose of bond is to protect the public and to ensure the Defendant's appearance at future court hearings. With that in mind, if a Defendant has no criminal history, close ties to the community, a job, and the crime is a low level felony, he is likely to get an Own Recognizance (OR) bond. However, if a Defendant has committed a serious crime or a crime of violence, has a lengthy criminal history, including a previous Failure to Appear, has no job, and was only visiting the community, the bond is likely to be high.