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What Happens to My Property if I am Incarcerated?

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP November 29, 2021

It’s important to understand what happens to the belongings that are in your possession when you’re arrested. It’s also crucial to understand what can happen to the property that you own and live in and how your belongings will be dealt with if you are arrested as well. Ideally, you’d be able to deal with all of this on your own before getting arrested, and hopefully, try to make sure that everything is in order. Unfortunately, there isn’t always time for this, as most people are arrested unexpectedly. However, understanding some of the laws and how they work can help you and your Boulder criminal defense lawyers be prepared.  

What Happens to the Belongings on Your Person?

If you get arrested, the police will search you and retain all of the belongings that you have on your person. This often includes money, a cell phone, house keys, identification, credit cards, and other incredibly important personal information and items. This doesn’t mean that the police get to keep your items; it just means that they have to be stored while you are in custody. 

Items Will be Seized in Some Cases

It is common for the police to simply store your items until you are released, or sometimes you can arrange for someone else to pick up the items that are allowed to be released. There are some instances when the police will seize and hold on to your belongings. This usually occurs when something in your possession is considered to be evidence in the case against you. For example, if you’re arrested for selling drugs, the police will take any money you had and put it into evidence instead of storing it with your other personal belongings. This is because any money found on your person can be used as evidence that you were in fact selling drugs. 

What Happens to Other Property 

If you rent or own a home, what happens to that property and the items inside the dwelling if you’re arrested is up to you. Being incarcerated and unable to post bail in order to get out of jail, even if only temporarily, can make it very difficult to sort this out and make sure that everything is taken care of. 

If you have friends or family in your area, you can try to make some phone calls so they can arrange to take care of all of your belongings should you be unable to post bail and do so on your own. Find someone you trust and ask them to keep an eye on your things and put them in storage for you if necessary. It’s also in your best interest to give someone access to your financial information so they can continue to pay your rent or your mortgage so you don’t lose your home. This is obviously a very precarious situation, as you don’t want someone who will take advantage of you while you’re incarcerated. Finding someone you trust who can help you keep everything in order is crucial.