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In certain circumstances, federal agencies of the United States government are able to forfeit a person’s property under an administrative clause. Administrative forfeiture can be accomplished without the case ever needing to be argued or proven in court. There are many defendants who, when their property is seized by the government, simply give up and don’t make an effort to contest the issue. When the defendant doesn’t involve legal counsel or contest the problem, the forfeited property becomes owned by the United States government.
Multiple federal agencies oftentimes make an effort to administratively forfeit the property of defendants. Unfortunately, many of the defendants don’t believe that they have a case, and they worry that they can’t afford a lawyer. The United States government often operates like a well-oiled machine, and these agencies are used to muscling in and using paperwork loopholes to take your property. However, if you do retain an asset seizure or forfeiture lawyer, they can help you determine whether you have a case. They can also help you file the necessary paperwork to contest a seizure in time. Many people don’t understand the legal process to file an appeal, and by the time they’ve figured it out, it’s too late. A lawyer is already familiar with all the necessary paperwork and deadlines, so they can take the hassle out of your hands.
Asset seizure and forfeiture lawyers specifically practice in this area of the law. They’re familiar with what an administrative seizure means. They know when this type of forfeiture can be legally imposed upon a person, when it can be contested, and how to contest it.
One of the biggest things is to take the first step. Most people don’t get that far. You have to make a claim on your forfeited property within a certain period of time. After you’ve made your claim, the initial seizure will be documented and sent to a prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor will go over the details of the case and decide whether a judicial case can be started. Judicial cases include all criminal and civil cases.
Regardless of whether the forfeiture was administrative or not, you always have a right to go to court. Many people don’t realize that. They think that the government is powerful enough to take anything they want, and that trying to go to court will bring unwanted consequences down on them. That isn’t the case. It’s vital that you understand your rights. These agencies depend upon you not knowing that you can contest a seizure, and most people play right into their plans. You also always have the right to be represented by legal counsel in a forfeiture, and your lawyer can always review the facts of your case regardless of whether it’s administrative or judicial.
Federal regulations impose very strict deadlines on when you can file a claim regarding an administrative asset forfeiture. Part of this is for the sake of efficiency, but most of it is so that busy people won’t have the time to get the necessary paperwork together until it’s too late. With this type of asset forfeiture, you’re racing against the clock more than you’re racing against the government. Getting together the correct legal paperwork and sending it through the right channels is exhausting if you aren’t familiar with the legal system, especially if you’re already trying to work a normal job. That’s where an experienced lawyer comes in. If you miss the deadlines, you’ll be considered to have defaulted on the forfeiture, and you won’t be able to contest it.
When the United States government tries to seize your property through the court system, there’s a lot of avenues you can use to get it back. When you invoke legal counsel, there’s also a lot of red tape that agencies need to work around in order to prove they have the right to take your property. To get around that, most agencies rely on administrative asset forfeiture because the average person doesn’t know how to combat it. Most people don’t realize that they always have the right to a court date, even when the forfeiture was done without any court paperwork. Even if people do realize, they often don’t have the energy or the time to get the needed paperwork filed in the short amount of time available.
Most individuals who have their assets forfeited don’t contest the forfeiture. The process is usually started when agencies like the DEA or FBI seize property while doing a criminal investigation. They might take the property from your clothes, home, car, or place of business. Law enforcement officials only have to display probable cause and a belief that a crime was committed on the property or is being committed on the property. Once this is established, they can seize property in an administrative capacity.