If you have lost property or money to the government, you will want to hire an Asset Forfeiture attorney to help have it returned to you. This quasi-criminal process done by the government takes control of your property as they claim it is somehow connected with illegal activity. When property or money is connected, or believed to be connected, to illegal activities, the government confiscates it through what they call asset forfeiture.
An asset forfeiture attorney will fight for your rights to your property. Asset Forfeiture Attorney has extensive experience working in federal courts and will be able to help you navigate a complex process and have your property or money returned to you.
Administrative Seizure and Civil Forfeiture and Why You Need to Hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney
If your property or money becomes the subject of a federal forfeiture proceeding, you will want to hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney. If you are a defendant in a criminal case, or simply have an interest in the property, you need an attorney who practices and understands federal laws. These proceedings are aggressively pursued by government and law enforcement agencies, as well as the prosecutors. With an Asset Forfeiture Attorney's help, you stand a higher chance of achieving a positive outcome and protecting your property rights.
Civil forfeiture and administrative seizure are not criminal actions technically, but they are often connected to illegal activities, accompany them, or precede them. It is up to the government to show proof in a forfeiture proceeding, but this burden of proof is a lot less than what is expected in a criminal procedure. There are cases where the proof is the responsibility of the claimant, such as when they are expected to prove they have a legitimate claim to the property trying to be regained.
With the government having less of a burden in establishing proof in a forfeiture proceeding, they are able to hold your property they’ve attached to illegal activities even if they cannot establish enough evidence to obtain a criminal conviction against you. It is a controversial practice, as this seizure of your property is a criminal punishment that does not have the protection of a trial.
Asset Forfeiture Attorney knows that one of the defense strategies to help you reclaim your seized property is to challenge the government's facts on their claims. If they are not going to be able to show proof through truthful evidence that your money or property has been involved in illegal activity, the forfeiture claim will fail. You need to hire Asset Forfeiture Attorney to help you find this truth and prove that the government has no right to retain your property.
Another argument against asset forfeiture is that law enforcement and governments are able to profit from these actions, which gives them the incentive to make unlawful seizures. Not only have elected officials and our courts allowed these practices, but they have also expanded their reach. You will want an experienced asset forfeiture attorney working with you if you’ve lost money or property through a seizure process.
Why is Asset Forfeiture Used by Law Enforcement?
Civil or asset forfeiture is a tool to be used by law enforcement officials to go after drug dealers and crime organizations. The roots of this legal process are deep, and modern asset forfeiture is justified by the government and law enforcement officials as a means to seize assets gained through illegal activities, and then use that property and proceeds to fight other criminals. Some see asset forfeiture as a way for law officials to create revenue for their needs and feel they often target innocent members of the public as a way to generate this revenue.
Are Criminals Their Only Targets for Asset Forfeiture?
There are a lot of stories out there involving innocent people who have had their property seized by either law officials or the government. Stories from Texas are told on how a practice of seizing property and cash was being conducted from innocent drivers whom officials could show no evidence of having done anything illegal. Philadelphia stories involve police seizing the home of two sisters because they had a brother who stopped in their home (but did not live in the house) while he was trying to evade arrest. A story from Detroit tells how police seized hundreds of cars owned by customers of an art institute because the institute did not obtain a liquor license for some of their events. These stories are proof you do not have to be involved in illegal activities for the government or law officials to seize your property or money.
You Need to Hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney When You Are Innocent, and Your Assets are Forfeited
When your property is taken from you, the first thing you usually do is call the police. What happens when its the police who have taken your property? You have to hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney to help you get it back. Not all attorneys understand or have the experience of facing law or government officials when it comes to reclaim property seized under civil forfeiture laws. These laws are complicated, and only an experienced attorney with these laws will know how to work with the system to get you a successful outcome.
If you are innocent of an allegation, it still does not mean the law officials or government have to return your property or money. According to the Supreme Court of the U.S., the ‘innocent owner’ defense’ is not constitutionally required. Should the state you live in have an ‘innocent owner’ defense, then you are responsible for the burden of proof the property should be returned to you.
- Innocent Owner Defense
The innocent owner defense under the law in the United States gives you a supportive defense that will apply when you want to prove you are innocent of a crime, and your property should not have been forfeited. The United States Code 983(d) under title 18 is where you can find the definition for laws related explicitly to civil forfeiture proceedings. In this section, you will find it states you are responsible for providing the proof that you are an innocent owner of the forfeited property by a preponderance of the evidence.
Your forfeited property is presumed to be guilty until you are able to prove your innocence and that the property should not have been forfeited. You will be responsible for proving:
- You were not involved in the criminal activity you are being accused of
- You had no knowledge of your property being used in the commission of a crime
- You took reasonable steps under the circumstances to stop the use of your property being used in the commission of a crime
While you are proving these points, the police or government will keep possession of your property or money. Once the law or government have your assets, the success rate of gaining it back is low. Some even feel the fight to get it back isn’t worth the effort and will just walk away from asset forfeiture. Asset Forfeiture Attorney will fight for your rights and put forth a strong effort to help you get back what belongs to you.
Is There Asset Forfeiture in Every State?
Every state in the United States has an asset forfeiture process. Some states have laws that restrict the process, but local and state law officials are able to seize property when they partner with federal law enforcement. This process is what is called ‘equitable sharing.’ Equitable sharing provides payouts to local and state agencies when the forfeited property is sold, and the profits from the sale are divided between the two agencies.
If I Hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney Can I Take Authorities to Court for Asset Forfeiture?
Most federal civil asset forfeiture end administratively. Administratively means your property is automatically forfeited if you don't challenge the seizure within a specified period of time. Forfeiture proceedings can be barred due to waivers obtained by law officials who will often pressure property owners to give up their rights to ownership of their property in order to avoid criminal charges that have been ‘created’ by those same officials. This process is known as ‘quid pro quo’ and raises serious questions on the fairness of the asset forfeiture process. Going to court to try and regain property involved in an asset forfeiture can be lengthy and without an attorney fighting for your rights, an uphill battle.
A person typically needs the help of an attorney for any civil proceeding, and for civil forfeiture, you need to hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney. Victims that try to go through this process alone find themselves weighed down by the effort, time, and expense required to petition the government for the return of their seized property. An Asset Forfeiture Attorney will know who to petition, when to file, and what to expect throughout this process. They can stand beside you through this frustrating experience and help you understand and know exactly where your case stands.
If Your State Laws Are Good for Asset Forfeiture, Should You Still Hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney?
No matter what your state laws are regarding asset forfeiture, most of these cases end up in federal court, and to fight the federal government; you will want to hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney.
Federal laws can often do circles around good state law, and the equitable sharing allows for local law officials to team up with federal law enforcement agents to seize property under the federal forfeiture law. These laws allow for seizures that would not be applicable under specific state forfeiture laws. Local law enforcement is able to pocket a portion of the proceeds through equitable sharing when they work with the federal agencies who will then keep the rest. This process allows local law enforcement to get around the state laws as they continue to profit from asset forfeitures.
How Can Asset Forfeiture be Lawful and Will Hiring an Asset Forfeiture Attorney Help?
The Money Laundering Act of 1986 states it is unlawful to be involved in financial transactions that use funds you’ve earned through ‘specified criminal activities’ and intend to conceal where the money came from originally. This concealment is illegal when it is done to avoid state and federal transaction reporting requirements involving earned currency. These activities include numerous crimes from the distribution of violent crimes, fraud, and drug manufacturing.
Currency reporting laws require that financial institutions, such as your bank, file reports with the federal government if you make a financial transaction in cash or another form of currency worth $10,000 or more. The Money Laundering Act also prohibits transporting more than $10,000 outside of the United States as a means of evading the law or if you carry currency knowing that the proceeds are a result of a criminal act.
If the federal government thinks your funds or property has been earned as a result of illegal activity, they are authorized under numerous laws to seize your property and funds and obtain asset forfeiture. This forfeiture is legal whether or not they have proven, or even charged you with illegal activities. This right is granted as far as being able to seize funds and property they think has been earned from criminal activity but are in another’s possession, which is an uninvolved third party. Warrants are normally required in order for a seizure to be conducted of real property, land, personal property, or currency by a federal officer; however, this is not always enforced.
You can fight as asset forfeiture, but it is recommended that you hire an Asset Forfeiture Attorney as you are going to need the help from a seasoned asset forfeiture attorney if you hope to stand a chance of successfully contesting the seizure of your property or money by the government. There are situations where law officials do not follow statutory requirements when they seize someone's property. If such a mistake was made, your asset forfeiture attorney will be able to prove these mistakes and have a good chance of recovering your property. If your attorney can uncover even the slightest procedural error, it is possible to ruin the government's case.
What Happens with an Asset Forfeiture?
After federal authorities have seized your property, they are required to send you written notice within sixty days of its seizure. As a property owner or an authorized party, you can challenge the seizure by filing a claim with the seizing agency. You will have to identify the property and state your interest in it. Once this claim is filed, the government has ninety days to begin a civil forfeiture proceeding in a federal District Court, or return the property to you.
In the civil asset forfeiture trial, the federal government will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your property was legally subject to seizure. They will have to have reasonable belief and proof you were involved in an illegal activity in which you profited with certain funds and used the specific property to establish this revenue.
There are several defenses to civil asset forfeiture, so you will want to contact Asset Forfeiture Attorney to help discuss your options. You may be allowed to challenge the government’s claims, especially when they do not have solid proof or evidence that your funds or property has been involved in unlawful activity. You could challenge the forfeiture if the property you own, which has been seized was not intentionally used in an attempt to avoid a required transaction reporting.
One of the most serious consequences involved with an asset forfeiture is that the government has the power to confiscate all of your assets and deprive you of the ability to hire an attorney if they also have you facing criminal charges. Without any financial assets, challenging the forfeiture may be difficult unless your attorney will work with you and wait for the trial outcome to receive compensation. If you are facing criminal charges, you will want an attorney working with you, as there are difficult decisions to make regarding your rights to fight this forfeiture. Asset Forfeiture Attorney will review your case and help you make the right decision about challenging the seizure of your property or funds.
If you are an innocent owner and have an affirmative defense to the forfeiture action, you may be able to regain your property or funds even if it has been part of unlawful activity. Affirmative defense will require proof you did not know about the illegal conduct. Under the Eighth Amendment in the United States Constitution, it is prohibited to attach excessive fines, which may be used when the forfeiture sought by the government is not appropriate to your alleged illegal activity.
What Forms of Asset Forfeiture are Possible?
Similar to civil asset forfeiture is the administrative seizures that are authorized under several federal statutes and are generally conducted by the United States Customs and Border Protection. These seizures are conducted at points of entry into the United States or by federal agencies during a criminal investigation.
The Customs and Border Protection is authorized to seize property when they have probable cause and believe it is contraband such as illegal weapons or drugs, or are restricted goods, such as cat and dog fur, or absinthe. Customs can also seize items that are not in compliance with federal regulations, such as weapons or biological weapons, which are not accompanied by the proper license or permit.
There are other federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and IRS, which are allowed to confiscate property if they believe the property is instrumental in a crime. It is a complex process to regain possession of property seized by these agencies, and you will need Asset Forfeiture Attorney on your side to work through the complicated process.
There are various laws concerning the forfeiture of assets, and they differ between the states. These laws are usually similar to the ones used by the federal government. Procedural requirements and rules regarding notice may be somewhat different. When state authorities seize property, it may be transferred to federal officials, and you will then have to follow all future forfeiture actions through the federal courts. The main difference this transfer will cause you are the ‘innocent owner’ defense cannot be used in the federal court system as it is only available in the state’s court system.
Laws regulating forfeitures are very complex and unfamiliar and require the assistance of an experienced attorney. An asset forfeiture could rob you of your bank accounts, your home, your money, and could literally take everything away from you. If criminal charges apply, the forfeiture challenge has to be handled carefully, so you avoid unnecessary damages to your future defense against the criminal proceedings.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of state and federal statutes can result in asset forfeiture. Statutes allow our government to seize property if there is a belief, not necessarily proof, but a belief by government or law enforcement officials that it is somehow connected to illegal activities. The connection does not have to be substantial for it to allow the seizure and they are then legally able to keep the property if you do not act within a specified time to hire an asset forfeiture attorney to claim your property rights.
There exists a wide variety of statutes that allow for the seizure of real and personal property not only in the State of California but across the United States. A misconception often associated with asset forfeiture is that it is connected to some form of a criminal act. This misconception is a result of the forfeiture laws making it legal for the government to seize a person’s property without any real evidence they have committed a criminal act.
Because you have to be very careful with the asset forfeiture challenge, you will want to hire an attorney who understands these proceedings and knows their way around the laws and courts. You will need Asset Forfeiture Attorney, who will be able to respond to the forfeiture notice right away as a means to seek the return of your property and protect you against future forfeiture problems.
Who to Contact About Asset Forfeiture Near Me
If you have experienced asset forfeiture, you need the professional and experienced assistance from Asset Forfeiture Attorney. Call our office at 888-571-5590, to discuss your case and learn how you can regain possession of the property or money that has been taken away from you. We have the experience, reputation, and legal education to help you through this challenging time. Asset Forfeiture is a tough legal process in which the federal or state government first takes your property, and then attempts to keep it from you permanently. You need our legal team to fight this battle with you and protect your rights.