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DEA Cash Seizures Legal Help | DEA Cash Seizure Lawyer

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

DEA Cash Seizures: Your Rights and Options

Getting your cash taken by the DEA can be a scary and confusing experience. You worked hard for your money, and to have the government swoop in and take it – without even charging you with a crime – seems crazy. But it happens more often than you might think – and when it happens, you need a DEA cash seizure attorney at the Spodek Law Group.

The DEA seized over $4 billion in cash from people between 2007 and 2016 through a practice called civil asset forfeiture. Here’s the scary part –  over 80% of the DEA cash seizures occurred without a criminal charge, or any conviction. Let’s dig into how this practice works, your rights in the situation, and defenses with the help of a lawyer.

How DEA Cash Seizures Work

The DEA has the ability to seize your cash, cars, homes, or other valuables if they believe the property is connected to criminal drug activity.

Here’s how it works:

  • The DEA identifies “suspicious” cash or property. This can happen during any traffic stop, a airport screening,  DEA raid, or other encounters with the government. DEA cash seizures often target large of cash and assets, but legally the DEA can seize any amount or any assets.
  • The DEA will start a civil (not criminal) forfeiture case against the assets. They don’t need to charge you with a crime, or get a conviction. The point is against your cash or property, not you – and as a result it makes it even harder.
  • The burden of proof flips around. In DEA cash seizure cases, it’s up to you to prove the property is “innocent” – that it has no tie to criminal activity. Otherwise, the DEA can keep it forever.
  • You have a short window to act. You typically have just 30-60 days to move forward on the forfeiture case yourself, or hire a DEA cash seizure lawyer to handle it. If you miss the deadline, you lose your right to fight back and get the property back.

As you can see, everything is setup to see you fail as the owner of the property. Very few cash seizure targets are able to navigate the legal process, and deadlines, without an attorney’s help.

Why You Need a Lawyer for Cash Seizures

Let’s look at some reasons why it’s important to have an attorney on your side if the DEA seizes your assets:

  • The law favors the DEA. Civil forfeiture laws give substantial leverage to law enforcement agencies and agents. Your attorney will know how to argue your rights and assert them.
  • Mistakes can hurt you. Anything you say, or fail to say, or do, can be used against you later in the process. Your attorney prevents missteps.
  • You have legal options. Options like filing a claim, or petition to get your property back, and requesting return of funds, for hardship aren’t obvious.
  • The process is complicated. This is a complex legal process, there are deadlines and burdens of proof to petitions and claims. An attorney helps you manage each step.

Possible Defenses Against DEA Cash Seizures

If you have cash, assets, or property that were targeted for civil forfeiture, an experienced DEA cash seizure attorney will look at possible defenses to get it back. Here are some options:

Innocent Owner Defense

This defense says you did nothing wrong, and had no knowledge of any criminal ties to the property. It’s a very tricky defense because the burden is on you to establish your innocence. Your attorney will gather evidence like financial records, titles, sworn statements, etc. to build your case and prove your point.

Excessive Fines Claim

This defense argues the seizure violates Constitutional protections against excessive government fines. If the value of seized property grossly exceeds any alleged crime, your attorney will fight for return under the 8th Amendment – and it’s possible he, or she, will win.

Improper Seizure Argument

If the DEA improperly seized your assets, such as without probable cause, our attorneys can seek a return of the property – for violation of Constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment.

Hardship Claim

You can request the return of funds, or property if the seizure is causing significant hardship. For example, if the DEA takes cash you need for medical treatments it’s possible to get it back. Our attorneys will help document hardship and negotiate return of funds.

No Criminal Charges

If the deadline passes, and you are not charged criminally related to the seized property, this helps demonstrate innocence. It doesn’t guarantee return of property, but an attorney can leverage it to argue for release of your seized assets.

State Penal Codes Related to DEA Seizures

While DEA cash seizures happen under federal law, state codes can also come into play depending on factors like:

  • Where the seizure took place
  • Your state of residence
  • Whether state agents were involved

Penalties for Drug Crimes Related to DEA Seizures

In cases where the DEA does bring criminal charges related to a cash seizure, you face serious penalties depending on factors like:

  • Type and quantity of drugs involved
  • Your role in the offense
  • Criminal history

Here are potential federal sentences for some common drug crimes:

Drug Trafficking

  • 5-40+ years in prison
  • Up to $5 million+ in fines

Drug Distribution

  • Up to 20 years imprisonment
  • Up to $1 million in fines

Drug Possession

  • Up to 3 years incarceration
  • Up to $250,000 in fines

Drug Manufacturing/Cultivation

  • 10 years to life in prison
  • Up to $50 million in fines

These are strict federal guidelines only. State laws also apply and some states impose even harsher sentences. Don’t let a cash seizure turn into a criminal conviction without consulting an attorney on your rights and options.

Protecting Your Rights with an Attorney’s Help

DEA cash seizures happen every day across America. If it happens to you, don’t panic and don’t give up. With an experienced civil forfeiture attorney guiding you, you can work to protect your rights, fight back against unjustified seizures, and regain your hard-earned property.

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