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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Asset Forfeiture in Queens Drug Cases – How It Works and How to Fight It


Asset Forfeiture in Queens Drug Cases – How It Works and How to Fight It

Asset forfeiture is a legal process that allows law enforcement agencies to seize property, including cash, cars, and even real estate, that they allege is connected to criminal activity. In Queens, asset forfeiture is commonly used in drug cases, allowing agencies like the NYPD, the Queens District Attorney’s office, and federal agencies to seize assets from accused drug dealers and traffickers.

While the goal may be to disrupt criminal organizations by depriving them of ill-gotten gains, asset forfeiture can have serious consequences for property owners, even if they are never charged or convicted of a crime. That’s why it’s important to understand how asset forfeiture works in Queens drug cases, as well as the legal options for fighting back to reclaim your seized property.

How Asset Forfeiture Works in Queens Drug Cases

There are a few key things to know about how asset forfeiture works in Queens drug cases:

  • Law enforcement can seize property based on probable cause: Police only need probable cause linking the property to criminal activity in order to seize it. This is a relatively low legal standard that does not require formal criminal charges or a conviction.
  • Multiple agencies can be involved: Asset forfeiture cases often involve cooperation between agencies like the NYPD, the Queens DA’s office, federal law enforcement like the DEA or FBI, and even the New York State Police. Each agency can initiate forfeiture under its own legal authority.
  • Cash and vehicles are commonly seized assets: While real estate can also be seized, cash and vehicles are the most common assets seized in Queens drug cases through forfeiture proceedings. Over $20 million in cash was seized in one recent large-scale Queens drug trafficking case.
  • Most cases are uncontested: The vast majority of asset forfeiture cases are uncontested, meaning the property owner does not fight back and the agency gets to keep the seized asset. Contested cases must go through judicial proceedings.
  • Agencies have a financial incentive: Asset forfeiture can be big business for law enforcement. Agencies can keep up to 80% of assets seized under federal law, which provides a potentially corrupting profit incentive.

Fighting Back Against Asset Forfeiture in Queens

If your property has been seized through asset forfeiture in a Queens drug case, fighting back to reclaim your property can be challenging but is critical for protecting your rights. Here is what you need to know:

  • File a claim quickly: To contest a seizure in federal court, you must file a claim with the seizing agency within strict deadlines, usually no more than 30-60 days from receiving the forfeiture notice. This starts the legal process for reclaiming your property.
  • Consider hiring a lawyer: Asset forfeiture cases can become complex legal proceedings. Connecting with an experienced Queens asset forfeiture lawyer gives you the best chance to successfully fight on your behalf.
  • Assert your innocence: One of the most common defenses in forfeiture cases is to argue you are an “innocent owner” who was unaware of any underlying criminal activity involving your property. You must show you did not consent to or have knowledge of illegal activity.
  • Point to dropped charges: If related criminal charges against you have been dismissed, use this to argue there is no legal basis for forfeiting property seized in the same case. The seizure becomes much harder to justify without an underlying conviction.
  • Explore all legal defenses: In addition to innocence claims, several other legal defenses may apply including statute of limitations arguments, improper seizure arguments, or procedural violations by law enforcement.

Reclaiming forfeited property is an uphill battle, but far from impossible with an experienced legal advocate in your corner. Queens residents who have had property seized should explore all avenues for asserting their rights.

The Controversy Around Asset Forfeiture

While asset forfeiture can be an effective tool for combating drug trafficking and money laundering, its misuse has sparked growing controversy and bipartisan calls for reform from critics:

  • Incentivizes seizures over justice: Critics argue the profit incentive leads agencies to focus on maximizing forfeiture revenue rather than impartial justice. There are documented cases of abuse motivated by financial gain.
  • Circumvents criminal justice system: Unlike criminal forfeiture, civil asset forfeiture circumvents protections like the presumption of innocence and the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. For many, this undermines due process.
  • Disproportionate impact: Low income and minority communities often feel the brunt of aggressive forfeiture practices. From traffic stops to airport searches, seizures can reinforce economic and racial inequality.
  • Lack of transparency and oversight: Clear data on forfeiture practices, profits, and spending is lacking in many jurisdictions, raising accountability concerns about such an unrestricted revenue stream.

While asset forfeiture can undermine trust in law enforcement when misused, reasonable reforms could help restore confidence that seizures are motivated by justice not profit. This balance continues to be debated by legal experts and policymakers alike.

Resources for Queens Residents Facing Forfeiture

If you are from Queens and find yourself facing asset forfeiture proceedings, make use of the following resources to understand the process, assert your rights, and navigate the system:

Contesting Federal Forfeitures

NY State Laws and Resources

I hope this overview gives Queens residents facing asset forfeiture a helpful starting point for understanding the process and exploring ways to reclaim seized property. Contesting forfeiture is difficult but critical for protecting your constitutional rights. Please use the resources provided to connect with legal advocates who can advise you on the best path forward in your specific case.

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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