Motion to return property
Tucked into the New Jersey Court Rules is a little used rule dealing with the return of seized property. Unbeknownst to almost any lawyer, a motion to return property can be made by anyone who has an interest in seized property regardless of whether or not they have been arrested. This provision is likely unknown by so many because it is a rare case where property is seized but the person is not arrested. However, this does happen with computer crimes such as child pornography cases.
The benefit to such a motion isn’t really to get the property returned but it is to gather information about the State’s case and to shake the State’s confidence in their case. If either or both are accomplished, the defense attorney may be successful in preventing the client from ever getting arrested. How do I know? Because I successfully executed this strategy with a child pornography case. I also learned how little used this rule was when the presiding criminal division judge tried to tell me that I couldn’t file such a motion. It took me 2 months to overcome every objection she kept trying to come up with but in the end, I was successful. The motion was heard and it was denied but the Prosecutor’s Office assured me at the end of the motion that my client would not be prosecuted which is all we really cared about. It was a great win.