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Salt Lake City International Airport Money Cash Seizure Lawyers

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Getting Your Seized Cash Back: A Guide for Travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport

Having cash seized by federal agents at Salt Lake City International Airport can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. Unfortunately, it is also quite common under civil asset forfeiture laws that allow law enforcement to seize property, including cash, that they suspect is tied to criminal activity.

Even if you have done nothing wrong, navigating the complex legal system to get your money back is difficult without experienced legal help. This article provides an overview of the cash seizure process at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and how an attorney can assist you.

Common Reasons for Cash Seizures at SLC Airport

Some of the most common reasons federal agents seize cash from travelers at SLC airport include:

  • Airport security or customs agents seizing cash from travelers attempting to leave or enter the U.S. with over $10,000 that has not been properly declared on a Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCEN Form 105).
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents seizing cash they believe may be tied to drug trafficking or money laundering.
  • Local law enforcement assisting federal agencies with cash seizures under federal adoption programs that let them keep up to 80% of seized assets.

When cash is seized, the agency taking it (DEA, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, local police, etc.) will issue a Notice of Seizure to the owner. This outlines:

  • The statutory basis for the seizure
  • An inventory of the cash or property seized
  • Instructions for contesting the seizure

Your Options After a Cash Seizure at SLC Airport

After the seizure, you have two main options:

  1. Petition for Remission – Ask the seizing agency to return your property. The agency has complete discretion, however, on whether to grant the petition.
  2. Contest the Seizure – File a claim in federal court to contest the seizure and try to get your money back. This is the only way to force the agency to justify the seizure.

Trying to get seized cash returned without experienced legal representation is extremely difficult. Federal forfeiture laws and processes are complex. An attorney can help by:

  • Filing a timely federal court claim to contest the seizure
  • Communicating with federal prosecutors and negotiating return of funds
  • Building a defense against forfeiture by showing legitimate source of cash
  • Navigating court processes and legal strategies to defeat forfeiture
  • Helping minimize the amount seized if full return is not possible

In addition, an attorney can request evidence from the seizing agency, such as:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • Airport security footage
  • Police dashcam video
  • Audio recordings
  • Information on how currency was packaged
  • Drug dog alerts
  • Names of officers involved

Utah Laws on Cash Seizures

In Utah, civil asset forfeiture is governed by the Utah Code Ann. § 24-1-1 et seq. Key provisions include:

  • Law enforcement can seize property, including cash, without a criminal conviction if they have probable cause it was involved in a crime [Utah Code § 24-1-1].
  • To contest a seizure, an owner must file a claim with the prosecuting agency within 30 days [Utah Code § 24-1-7].
  • If no claims are filed, the agency can administratively forfeit the property without going to court [Utah Code § 24-1-9].
  • Utah law enforcement keeps 100% of forfeited assets, creating a profit incentive for seizures [IJ Report].

Utah received a “D-” grade for its civil forfeiture laws in a November 2020 report by the Institute for Justice for failing to provide adequate protections for property owners.

Federal Laws on Cash Seizures

On the federal level, the primary laws allowing cash seizures are:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 981 – Permits civil forfeiture of property involved in money laundering.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 983 – Sets forth procedures for civil asset forfeiture proceedings.
  • 21 U.S.C. § 881 – Allows seizure of property related to drug crimes.
  • 31 U.S.C. § 5317 – Provides for forfeiture of monetary instruments not properly reported when transported.

To contest a federal seizure, an owner must file a verified claim within 30 days of receiving notice, or 35 days from the date of seizure if no notice is provided.

Recent Controversies Over SLC Airport Cash Seizures

Cash seizures by federal agents at Salt Lake City International Airport have proven controversial and drawn media scrutiny in recent years:

  • A 2004 lawsuit alleged Salt Lake City police and federal agents wrongly seized over $100,000 in cash from a man based on vague allegations it was drug money [Deseret News].
  • A 2008 investigation found the DEA regularly seized cash from travelers at SLC airport but rarely filed criminal charges [Salt Lake Tribune].
  • Between 2000-2016, DHS agencies seized over $178 million in cash from travelers in Utah airports, with 91% of forfeitures happening administratively without judicial review [IJ Report].

These incidents highlight the potential for abuse of civil forfeiture laws to seize cash without evidence of underlying criminal wrongdoing.

Finding an Attorney to Fight Cash Seizures at SLC Airport

If you had cash seized from you at Salt Lake City International Airport, it is critical to act quickly and contact an attorney experienced in federal forfeiture law. Look for an attorney who:

  • Focuses specifically on federal asset forfeiture defense
  • Has a track record of getting seized cash returned for clients
  • Can negotiate aggressively with federal prosecutors
  • Is knowledgeable of forfeiture laws and deadlines
  • Understands the procedures at SLC Airport

A qualified attorney can advise you of your rights, review any evidence, file court claims, and handle negotiations with the seizing agency. In many cases, they can get all or most of the seized cash returned without lengthy legal proceedings.

Don’t let the government take your hard-earned money without a fight. The deck may seem stacked against you, but an experienced attorney can help level the playing field. Contact a lawyer immediately if your cash is seized at SLC or any airport.

The Bottom Line on Cash Seizures at Airports

Having cash seized at an airport is scary, but the situation is not hopeless. The following tips can improve your chances of getting your money back:

  • Remain calm and be polite to agents at all times.
  • Do not answer questions or provide information without an attorney present.
  • Get names/contact of agents involved and details on amount seized.
  • Hire an experienced attorney immediately to contest the seizure.
  • An attorney can negotiate return of cash quickly in many cases.
  • Act fast, as you only have 30 days to contest a federal seizure.

While the laws may seem stacked against property owners, an experienced attorney can protect your rights and fight to get your seized cash returned. Don’t delay in seeking legal help.

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Todd Spodek

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

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CLAIRE BANKS

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RAJESH BARUA

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CHAD LEWIN

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