26 Aug 23

FBI Seizures and Forfeitures

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Understanding FBI Asset Seizure and How to Respond

The FBI and other federal agencies frequently utilize asset seizure and forfeiture when pursuing criminal investigations. But even if you are never charged with a crime, the seizure of property can inflict serious financial hardship. Challenging seizures requires experienced legal assistance to navigate complex processes and strict deadlines. Take steps now to protect your rights.

Common Reasons for FBI Asset Seizures

The FBI, DEA, ATF and other agencies often seize assets they believe are:

Proceeds of Crime

If assets are suspected to be direct profits of illegal activity like drug trafficking or fraud, the government can argue they qualify for forfeiture on that basis. But proceeds must be traceable to specific crimes.

Facilitating Instruments

Property used as instruments for committing crimes, like vehicles transporting drugs or computers used for cybercrime, can be seized as facilitating instruments subject to forfeiture following convictions.

Substitute Assets

If proceeds of crime are unavailable, the government can seek substitute assets of similar value, but this requires proving assets are traceable to evading forfeiture.

Excessive Structuring

Repeatedly depositing cash in just under $10,000 increments to avoid bank reporting requirements can result in seizure of the structured amounts and accounts as civil or criminal violations.

Retaining an Asset Forfeiture Defense Lawyer

Recovering wrongfully seized property requires legal help to dispute vague allegations of connections to criminal activity. Seek counsel with:

Asset Seizure Experience

Verify specific background contesting FBI and DEA seizures. Expertise with motions to suppress evidence also helps in many cases.

Federal Court Litigation Skills

These cases often culminate in complex complaints and trials in federal court. Proven federal litigation talents are ideal.

Asset Tracking Capabilities

Meticulously tracing assets and financial records rebuts prosecutors’ overstated claims that property facilitated or derives from crimes.

Settlement Negotiation Abilities

Many cases end in settlements returning a portion of assets when winning full dismissal appears uncertain. Skilled negotiators gain ground when possible.

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The urgency of quick action before deadlines pass mandates retaining an experienced asset forfeiture defense lawyer immediately if assets are seized. Delay jeopardizes recoverability.

Trusted FBI Seizure Defense Attorneys

Successfully fighting seizure of your assets requires a lawyer with tenacity and technical skills to challenge vague allegations. Led by veteran litigator Howard Srebnick, Black Srebnick Kornspan & Stumpf have decades of combined experience defending complex white collar accusations and disputing asset seizures nationwide.

Mr. Srebnick and his colleagues have secured return of millions in seized assets for clients through expert financial analysis rebutting prosecutorial narratives and litigation pressing officials to meet their evidentiary burdens. When the FBI freezes your accounts without explanation, their aggressive pursuit of justice can turn the tide. Contact their team for urgent legal help.

The FBI Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Process

Understanding the nuances in federal seizure and forfeiture procedures allows coordination of the strongest asset defense:

Initial Seizure

The seizure itself may occur without warning during a search, through a restrain order served on your bank, or via civil or criminal forfeiture complaints listing assets now titled to the federal government.

Notice Requirements

Law enforcement must send written notices regarding seizure specifics, procedures for getting assets back, and deadlines. These notices can be deficient, giving grounds for challenge.

Demanding a Probable Cause Hearing

Within 33 days after notice, your attorney can demand a hearing before a judge forcing officials to show probable cause for seizure. Success means assets return immediately.

Negotiating Return of Assets

Even absent a full probable cause hearing, attorneys often negotiate return of a percentage of assets through settlements when winning full dismissal of the forfeiture complaint seems uncertain.

Litigating in Federal Court

If settlement talks fail, the case proceeds to federal court with complaints, discovery demands, and trials governed by strict rules. Experienced litigators excel in this arena.

Meticulous attention to deadlines and procedures prevents missteps. But you need swift representation to take affirmative action.

Key Defenses Against Asset Forfeiture

Skilled lawyers can deploy multiple strategies to defend against even complex federal asset forfeiture actions. Common arguments include:

No Direct Tracing to Criminal Acts

The government bears the burden of specifically tracing seized assets to identifiable criminal acts. If that linkage relies on unsubstantiated inferences, the case falls apart.

Third Party Claims

If assets belong to someone other than the target of investigation, like a spouse or business partner, an innocent owner defense demands their return. The assets cannot then promote any crimes.

Excessive Fines

If seizure of assets vital to livelihood seems disproportionate to any offenses, attorneys can argue it violates the Eighth Amendment’s limits on excessive fines.

Statute of Limitations Expired

Courts reject forfeitures based on alleged criminal acts falling outside the applicable statute of limitations that have already expired.

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Weak Circumstantial Evidence

Without solid documentation of criminal acts, convincing judges that circumstantial evidence proves facilitation of crime is very difficult at trial or preliminary hearings.

An experienced asset forfeiture defense lawyer leaves no option unexplored to protect your financial well-being when fighting excessive seizure.

Potential Impact of Asset Seizure or Restraint

FBI asset seizures aim to hit subjects where it hurts – their bank accounts, businesses, and valuables. The financial stress resulting even temporarily merits an aggressive response.

Cashflow Disruption

Seizing bank accounts and cash places immediate pressure on making mortgage payments, payroll, and even household expenses if substantial savings vanish.

Reputational Harm

Asset restraints on businesses send negative signals to customers, creditors, and markets, damaging enterprise value and growth prospects.

Legal Fees

Contesting forfeitures and navigating possible criminal charges incurs major defense costs at the same time seized assets limit funding options.

Ongoing Business Operations

Losing bank accounts, inventory, records, and equipment hampers business operations and meeting obligations to customers and employees.

Personal Financial Goals

Seizures sidetrack investment in homes, education, retirement and force very difficult temporary or permanent lifestyle changes.

Fighting back matters. With skilled legal advocates, recovery is possible before irreparable damage occurs.

Avoiding Missteps When Assets Are Seized

The aftermath of asset seizures by the FBI or other federal agencies requires urgent, strategic action. Experienced lawyers caution against:

Ignoring Notice Deadlines

Strict deadlines after notice require immediately demanding probable cause hearings or filing claims. Inaction results in permanent forfeiture.

Providing False Information

Never falsify information provided to law enforcement regarding assets or lie in hearings. That constitutes criminal obstruction.

Transferring Assets

Do not try to transfer assets to evade seizure after restraints are imposed. This risks charges like money laundering.

Using Seized Assets as Leverage

Some propose letting the government keep seized assets in plea deals or cooperation exchanges. This is rarely wise without concrete guarantees of returns.

Falling Victim to Delay

Promptly demand returns and force prosecutors to meet court deadlines – delays usually benefit them, not you.

With so much at stake, rely on counsel with forfeiture experience each step of the way. Protect your rights through knowledge.

Responding to Federal Asset Seizure

If you face notices of asset seizure or your accounts are unexpectedly frozen by federal law enforcement, stay calm but act decisively:

Gather Asset Records

To refute evidentiary narratives about criminal linkage, compile documentation on seized asset origins comprehensively.

Contact Experienced Counsel

Engage asset forfeiture defense lawyers immediately to halt prosecutorial momentum and map counterstrategies.

Act Before Deadlines

Meet all deadlines for probable cause hearings and claims stubbornly, forcing officials to validate allegations.

Cooperate Selectively

While transparency about assets aids recovery, decline investigative interviews about alleged crimes without counsel.

With seasoned legal guidance, the worst impacts of unjust asset seizures can be avoided. But waiting surrender leverage. Protect your rights and property now.