Bad things can happen to good people. Even if you have committed no crime, you may be put in a position where you have to defend yourself. Protecting your rights and your property is your responsibility. In many cases, it may seem like there is nothing you can do. Contact Jacek Lentz if you feel you have been wrongly targeted by law enforcement. In cases of civil asset forfeiture, our office can help you protect your property and get back your peace of mind.
What Is Civil Asset Forfeiture?
Civil asset forfeiture is used by law enforcement agencies to seize any property, public or private, that they believe was to have been used during the commission of a crime, or that the property itself caused the crime or created the possibility of illegal activity. Most people believe that only criminals have their property taken away. That is not true! Upstanding, law abiding citizens can also have their property seized. All law enforcement officials need is the possibility of illegal activity to seize and hold private property.
Why Does It Happen?
In the beginning, civil asset forfeiture was considered an effective tool that could be used against organized crime. By seizing assets of the organizations and the people who participated in the illegal activity, it was believed that they would go bankrupt and cease to function. This didn't always happen. Over time, police and other law enforcement agencies realized that civil asset forfeiture was an effective way of generating revenue. Now, the police can use almost any reason to seize the assets of anyone, including innocent citizens. If you believe this has happened to you, you need an attorney who will protect your rights. Call Jacek Lentz today at 888-571-5590!
But I'm Innocent!!
In most cases, the police can take your property and you can do very little to stop them, except for hire an attorney to try and get it back. Once they have your belongings, they don't have to give it back, even if they find out you were innocent. The “innocent owner” defense is not supported by the Constitution, so claiming innocence is not enough. You have to prove your innocence without any doubt, or show that you tried everything possible to prevent illegal activity from occurring. Either way, law enforcement will keep your belongings until the court orders them to return it. If it isn't returned, it can be sold at public auction and the police will keep the money.
The police can argue that they suspected illegal activity. Suspicion of illegal activity and actual illegal activity are two different things. The problem is that the police have the right to use either to gain access to your property. They don't have to be positive that a crime was actually committed. All they need is the belief a crime was possible which makes it very difficult for the average citizen to prove otherwise. This is why hiring an attorney is in your best interest. He will be able to help you prove your innocence without any doubts and help you get your property back.
Can Police Profit From Civil Asset Forfeiture?
Yes! Any property seized under civil asset forfeiture that is no longer of use can be sold at public auction. Once property has been seized, it must be kept as evidence until the case it is associated with is finalized. Once the case has been closed, the property is either returned to the owner (if they are innocent) or sold at public auction. If you are an innocent owner and want your property returned, you must take immediate action. If you don't, the property could be sold before you have a chance to fight to get it back. Police can, and do profit from civil asset forfeiture. In fact, many can double or triple their profits if the right type of assets are seized. In 2013, government statistics showed that profits from civil asset forfeiture topped $657 million!
What Can I Do To Protect Myself?
In civil asset forfeiture cases, the first thing you should do is hire a reputable attorney. Because the “innocent owner” defense is not recognized, you will have to prove that you did nothing wrong, that your property was not gained through the commission of illegal activity and that your property, itself did not violate any laws or commit any crime. Your lawyer will be able to file an injunction to prevent the police from selling your property until you have proven (or not proven) your case. Don't delay!
It is important to talk to an attorney before signing anything over to the police. It has been reported in the past that property owners in the past were forced to sign wavers that relinquished their rights to their property and gave police free rein to sell it at auction. Civil asset forfeiture occurs in every state. No one is immune. No crime needs to be committed. All the police need is the possibility of illegal activity.
Even though there are decent forfeiture laws in each state, there are many ways the police can bypass them and gain access to your property. Know the law, but most importantly, know your rights. Hire an attorney who can help guide you through the process. You only have a certain amount of time to try and reclaim your property. Call Jacek Lentz today and find out he can help you get your property back. Time is of the essence and the longer you wait reduces the chances of you getting your property back before it is sold to the highest bidder. Call our office today at 888-571-5590!