Asset forfeiture is confiscation of a person’s property and is considered a form of criminal justice that is typically applied to the alleged proceeds of a crime. This process is used for many terrorist activities, and drug-related crimes but can also include other criminal and civil offenses. The purpose of asset forfeiture was intended to interrupt illegal activity by confiscating assets thought to be beneficial to an organization or individual involved in illegal activity.
Police have been abusing asset forfeiture laws, and it is causing many innocent citizens to lose their cars, cash, and even real estate when they are never even arrested or convicted of a crime. The process has become deeply flawed and is allowing both state and federal agencies to make seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting.
If you have lost property or money due to asset forfeiture, you need Asset Forfeiture Attorney to fight to reclaim your assets. Regaining your property that has been seized can be difficult, and you need legal counsel to fight this system. Asset forfeiture can even be invoked with a package being mailed to you, that you have never had possession of. What happens when your parcel is seized before it arrives at your home?
Seizure of Shipped Packages
Seizure refers to the act of physically taking possession of an item that has been shipped rather than giving control of the package to the owner, or person it was being sent to. It is the transfer of control of the shipped item from the owner to the federal or state government.
Police or other government agencies are able to ‘seize’ a package from the shipping agent (U.S. Post Office, FedEx, UPS, or other delivery services) if they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ the package is linked to a potential criminal activity. The motive behind the seizure during its shipping process should be to prevent any possible illegal activity from occurring in the country. The officials can use these reasons to seize a shipped package:
- They have reason to believe the package contains illegally obtained profits or items
- They think the package is evidence of an offense enclosed
- They have reason to believe the package contains items considered contraband or that have been processed unlawfully
- They believe the contents of the package contains property used in criminal activity
Case of a Man Who has Cash Seized through Asset Forfeiture
A man in Greenville had been trying to return the favor of a friend who had loaned him money when he was at a low point in his life. The friend had loaned him money to get back on his feet, and he wanted to return the favor to this friend who now needed his help.
Mr. Hamer agreed to loan his friend $6,000, but he didn’t want to send cash through the mail. When discussing his options with the mail service, they advised him to purchase money orders to send the amount to his friend. Since the U.S. Postal Service could not guarantee next-day delivery at the time, he decided to use FedEx so his friend would get the money on Saturday, the following day.
When the money did not arrive at his friends the next day, Mr. Hamer contacted FedEx to inquire about his shipment only to find out his package had been seized in a legal process known as civil asset forfeiture.
Two weeks after the money was seized, and after Mr. Hamer’s attorney had written a letter of explanation for the funds, the police asked the court to forfeit the money to their department.
The evidence in the case showed:
- Police investigated a package from Mr. Hamer being sent to Mr. Black with a Washington state address
- They claimed the phone number listed on the package had either been disconnected or was illegitimate
- The parcel had its ends taped and glued down
- The package contained a coffee bag and vacuum-sealed container with money orders totaling $6,000
- They stated the packaging on this shipment was overdone and included padding of foam, which they determined was used to confuse drug-sniffing dogs
- They believed because the sender paid for delivery in cash and was using money orders, it was done to avoid a ‘paper trail.’
Mr. Hamer was able to refute all this evidence. He had receipts showing he had used his credit card to pay for the shipping, not cash. The receipt had his ‘working’ phone number listed, which he had used twice to call the Greenville police, and he had a receipt for the purchase of the money orders. There was no coffee bag or foam insulation used in the package, nor was there a vacuum-sealed package or excessive tapping of the item.
Because the police had already filed a complaint about forfeiture, Mr. Hamer had to fight the claim in civil court. It took Mr. Hamer six weeks to obtain possession of ‘his’ money, which came with an apology but no explanation.
This case represents how easily the government officials or police departments can seize your package from the delivery service before you ever gain possession and how difficult it is to have it returned to you. They do not need proof you are involved in criminal activity or that the package is tied to an illegal event; they need only ‘reasonable suspicion.’ The process of asset forfeiture is complicated, and you will need Asset Forfeiture Attorney working with you to regain what is lawfully your property.
Seizure of Imported Packages Before They Arrive at Your Home
If goods are shipped from overseas to the United States, they are considered ‘imported’ packages or products. These packages will undergo a checking process and must comply with federal and state government regulations and rules. These rules are both confusing and complicated. A package or goods that are prohibited or restricted from importing from a foreign source or one that requires a permit in order to enter the country can be taken (seized) by the United States Customs.
It is your responsibility to know what is allowed to come into the country through the shipping process, as well as how these items are allowed to be shipped. Packages for international shipping have to have an attached United States Customs and Border Declaration. This declaration has to include your complete and precise description of what is inside the package. If it is an item being purchased through an online merchant, it must have the seller’s name and address, along with the number of items, its price in U.S. dollars, the country it is coming from, and its weight.
United States Customs and Border Declaration
The United States Customs and Border Protection agency is responsible for keeping the country safe against illegal importation of prohibited items. The form, CBP 6059B, is a warning to inform travelers arriving in the U.S. that importing merchandise into the United States that can infringe intellectual property rights will subject travelers to criminal or civil penalties and can pose serious risks to health and safety.
Intellectual property rights are those items that can represent a high-risk area that could potentially cause significant harm to the United States economy or pose a threat to the safety and health of the American people.
Each day there are a lot of shipping packages and merchandise that get examined, detained, or are seized by the United States Customs or other law enforcement officers. These checks are performed at seaports, airports, and other areas where the U.S. border is being crossed. Packages being shipped can be seized at the ‘port’ of entry into the United States if they have been illegally transported, or their customs duties are not paid correctly. In some cases, an importer of an illegal or banned item can be arrested and imprisoned for their involvement in shipping these items.
If you have received a notice of seizure by the office of Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures, you will want to contact Asset Forfeiture Attorney. These notices are typically sent out to someone who is an alleged violator with the information on what and where your shipment was seized. The notice should also contain the legal basis for which your shipment was seized. Asset Forfeiture Attorney will help you prepare to obtain your item, and advise you of the process necessary to follow when dealing with the office of Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures (FP&F).
If it is your belief this seizure was illegal, and that the United States Customs and Border have no legal claim to your shipped items, you may want to challenge the seizure through an administration petition. Contact Asset Forfeiture Attorney right away to begin this process as you only have thirty days from the day you receive the notice to file this petition. The filing of the petition will eventually lead to a court trial where the Customs department must prove it had a legal right to seize your item or items.
The burden of proof will be your responsibility in court to show the package’s duty was paid, and that shipping of it followed all rules and regulations. The court will then decide to either release your seized items or reject your petition and not release your package. The best practice to avoid this seizure situation is to make sure you are compliant with all relevant regulations and laws regarding the importing of goods into the United States.
Typical packages that encounter being seized during shipping by the law enforcement agencies, include:
If you have had a package seized that contains controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, or a prescription drug, it is best not to contact the agency which has taken the package. Contacting the agency about such a shipment could result in an arrest or investigation as it is illegal to ship drugs through either private or federal carriers. If the package contains a prescription medication, contact Asset Forfeiture Attorney concerning your rights to gain possession of this shipment.
Currency or Cash
Police officers and other law enforcement agencies regularly seize currency or money sent through shipping packages. There are a lot of reasons a person can choose to send money through an insured parcel; however, police typically use the excuse that there is reason to believe it is being sent to assist in criminal activity. There are millions and millions of dollars confiscated through asset forfeiture every year by this misguided notion. You would want the help of Asset Forfeiture Attorney if you had money seized from a shipping process before it reached your home.
Explosives, Ammunition, or Firearms
Major shipping carriers such as UPS, the United States Postal Service, and FedEx have specific state and federal regulations in place to ship firearms. These packages are, however, considered dangerous goods and will often be seized to ensure a proper check. If you have followed all the correct rules and regulations for shipping a firearm, and it is still seized under asset forfeiture, contact Asset Forfeiture Attorney. We understand the laws regarding these seizures and will help you gain proper ownership of your property.
If you have a package that needs transporting or shipping within the United States, you should send through the United States Postal Service or a private carrier, such as FedEx or UPS. The regulations and rules are somewhat the same for each, but there are some differences. One difference is the Post Office cannot ship ammunition, but carriers such as FedEx or UPS are allowed to send these shipments.
Using the United States Post Office to Ship Packages
The United States Postal Service is a government agency and offers a lot of volume and bulk shipping services. These services include both small and large shipping services to many different businesses. Because it is a federal government agency, it is required to follow federal guidelines, which includes the federal government employees working there must have probable cause to search a package for drugs. This shipping service has its own squad of special postal inspectors with their own process for checking packages. The United States Postal Service partners with the local drug task forces in performing drug parcel investigations.
First-class letters and packages are safeguarded against search and seizure under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution as per the United States Postal Investigation Service. This safeguard protects such shipments from being opened if there is not a search warrant in place. A search warrant can be issued if the investigators state there is ‘probable cause’ of suspicion, however. Because of this protection against search and seizure procedures, many prefer this choice for shipping drugs; however, the Post Office can get a warrant if they believe a package is suspicious.
Pot is legal in California; however, it is a felony under 18 U.S. Code 1716 to send marijuana through the United States Post Office even if it is being mailed within the boundaries of the State of California.
Using Third-Party Private Carriers for Shipping Packages
Private carriers such as DHL, FedEx, or the UPS are not federal government agencies and therefore do not require a search warrant to check packages if they deem them suspicious. The Supreme Court has declared you’ve eliminated your reasonable expectation of privacy by using a third-party carrier.
There have been cases involved with shipping a package through a third-party carrier where unwarranted searches have been conducted. If a third-party shipping company has reason to believe a package contains suspicious material such as cash, ammunition, or drugs, they are allowed to take the package out of the regular shipping cycle. They will then inform a law enforcement agency about their concerns. Most private shipping companies cooperate with federal law enforcement in cracking down on illegal trafficking of drugs through shipping.
The Legal Process to Get Packages that have been Seized Back
If your shipping package is seized, you will start by contacting the law enforcement agency, which is holding it. Before going to meet with them, make sure you have your representative from Asset Forfeiture Attorney with, as you never want to meet or speak with a police officer or investigator alone for their interrogation.
You may think you have nothing to hide, but they can use anything you say against you in court as evidence, and they are very good at trying to get you to make the wrong statement. In the case of police seizing your package before it arrives at your home, they are not trying to be your friend. They will want to file the case, seize the imported or exported goods, and file asset forfeiture for their gain. You will want an attorney with you during this meeting so that you do not say anything incriminating that can later be used against you.
The legal process of getting your property or seized shipping package back can be complicated and can involve administrative delays. Your best approach is to have legal help and go through the process one step at a time:
Your attorney from Asset Forfeiture Attorney will help you file a claim to preserve your rights against the seized shipping package. To submit your claim, you are required to have an actual interest in the seized package, which means you cannot make this claim for another party.
You need to determine if the seizure is being processed by a federal, state, or local authority. This determination is crucial as there are different rules to follow for the various agencies, and you want to ensure you are following the proper procedures. Even the slightest deviation can make the difference between getting your shipping package back or losing it forever.
Your attorney from Asset Forfeiture Attorney will look into different aspects of the claim being made against your shipping package and build a strong defense on your behalf. The investigation by your attorney will work to identify all witnesses, required shipping documentation, and any other evidence necessary to build a solid representation of your case.
Once the investigation is complete, your attorney can use all the evidence to build your case theory. Using the evidence, your attorney can engage in settlement negotiations with the government agency involved in seizing your shipping package.
A lot of the cases get resolved in the negotiation phase. There are some that will move on to the trial procedure. Having a skilled attorney working with from Asset Forfeiture Attorney can make a significant difference in this area as you want an attorney who thoroughly understands asset forfeiture proceedings.
Trial by Jury
In the State of California, as well as in federal courts, you have the right to trial by jury. In a case of trying to resolve your shipping package seizure, the prosecution will have the burden of proof in trying your case in front of a jury. They must present evidence, ‘ beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the seizing of your package was done in the reasonable belief it was part of criminal activity.
Find Help Near Me for Packages That Were Seized Before Arriving at My Home
If you had had a package seized by a government agency before it even arrived at your home, you need Asset Forfeiture Attorney. Call as early as possible at 888-571-5590 as there are deadlines to meet when dealing with this legal process. You are going to need an attorney who is able to defend your rights in the courts and get your property returned. Asset Forfeiture Attorney has the experience in these cases you are going need and want. Don’t hesitate, call us today.