Federal civil asset forfeiture is a form of property confiscation by the state. It is used to obtain the possible instruments or alleged proceeds of criminal activity. This can occur in cases involving civil and criminal offenses, terrorist activities, drug-related crimes and more. The goal of asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal activity. Confiscating the assets that benefit the criminal behavior of an organization or individual is intended to decrease such criminal activity.
*Criminal Forfeiture – This will happen as a part of the criminal prosecution of an individual or organization accused of a federal crime. This is an action that makes it necessary for the government to indict property utilized or derived from the crime alleged to have been committed by the defendant. In a criminal forfeiture, the defendant does have the right to contest the asset seizure using trial proceedings.
*Civil Judicial Forfeiture – This is a judicial process. A criminal conviction is not required. It is considered a legal tool that enables law enforcement to confiscate any property believed to have been involved in a crime. This is considered an action filed against the property and not a person or organization. This type of forfeiture can also be contested using a trial proceeding.
*Administrative Forfeiture – Most of the cases involving federal forfeiture are uncontested. This happened even if it is associated with a criminal case. Administrative forfeiture happens when property is seized, but there is no claim submitted to contest the seizure. Certain types of property may be administratively forfeited. It includes property that is not more than $500,000 in value, a conveyance utilized to transport, import, or store a controlled substance as well as merchandise legally prohibited from importation. According to federal law, there are strict notification requirements and deadlines required during this forfeiture process. Should the seizure be contested, then the government of the United States must participate in a civil or criminal forfeiture proceeding.
Using Forfeited Assets
All over the United States, there are forfeited assets being utilized to help law enforcement and support communities. Here are examples of some ways forfeited assets have been utilized.
*Purchase of defibrillators
*Refurbish shelter for victims of child abuse
*Provide drug treatment facilities
*Equipment for 911 call centers
*Fund job skills programs
*Body cameras and bulletproof vests for law enforcement
*Salaries for school resource officers
*Rescue kits to help victims of an overdose
*Purchasing bomb-sniffing dogs
Innocent Owner Defense
Unfortunately, a person can be innocent and still have their assets seized. Once an innocent person or organization have their assets seized, there is no legal requirement for their assets to be returned to them. The United States Supreme Court has ruled the innocent owner defense is not a constitutional requirement. Two things that must be proven before property can be returned.
1. A person or organization must establish they were not involved in any type of criminal activity.
2. It must also be established a person or organization had no knowledge their asset was being utilized to facilitate the commission of a crime. It must also be proven the person or organization took necessary steps in their circumstances to stop any such use. The success rate of winning back assets is low. Many times, the person or organization that owned the property finds it too much trouble to pursue. They move on rather than try to overturn a forfeiture using the court system.
This program makes it possible for local law enforcement officials to work with federal law enforcement to seize property using federal forfeiture laws. This happens even when state laws may not permit these types of seizures. Using the equitable sharing program, local law enforcement agencies can keep a portion of the proceeds when they seize assets using federal forfeiture laws. The rest is given to the federal government. In this way, local law enforcement can bypass state law and benefit from federal civil asset forfeitures.
Challenging Asset Forfeiture
In many cases, if a victim challenges a property seizure, it is possible for a prosecutor to return half of the seized assets. This is done in exchange for not suing. This also happens with local police departments who return seized assets in exchange or a promise to not bring a lawsuit against the police department. It is estimated that only one percent of assets seized during a forfeiture are ever returned to their original owners.
There are a number of legal defenses that have been successfully used against a federal civil asset forfeiture. In court, the government will have the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the assets seized were used in specific illegal activities. The owners of the assets may succeed with an affirmative defense. They may be able to prove the assets were used in criminal activity without their knowledge or permission. An experienced New York City criminal defense lawyer will know how to defend the victim of an unlawful federal civil asset seizure. They will know how to secure the seized property and make their clients whole again.
Federal Civil Forfeiture Defense
In criminal forfeiture, the government takes property after you are convicted as part of your sentence. With civil forfeiture, a criminal charge or conviction is not necessary. The federal government merely needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime.
Civil forfeiture allows the government to pursue an action against specific property alone, and if the defendant lose a civil forfeiture case, the property will be seized—regardless if you have never committed a crime. Consult an attorney who can defend you as soon as possible should you encounter the possibility of civil forfeiture in USA. With a skilled federal criminal defense attorney by your side, you can secure your properties, fight justly, and protect your rights. At our firm, we know how to protect clients involved in both criminal cases and connected civil forfeiture proceedings. We are equipped and ready to work with you as you combat the seizure of your property. Let our team fight for you. With so much on the line, it is important to always safeguard yourself.
Spodek Law group is a firm committed to protecting and defending the innocent statewide. We have extensive experience working in state and federal cases, and we know how to defend you on multiple fronts especially when your freedom and cherished possessions are at risk. Founded by Spodek Law group, our firm has remained dedicated to doing whatever it takes to provide exceptional legal service and client care throughout the stages of a criminal case. Our extraordinary federal team has grown from our firm’s winning tradition and expanded our reach to even the most complex federal felony cases. At Spodek Law group, we have one common goal: protect your freedom and property. Contact us now and be connected to an entire team of skilled and knowledgeable lawyers and legal staff. With us, you don’t have to wait too long to secure a legal representative. Our attorneys are always available to battle for you.
What Is Civil Judicial Forfeiture?
Known as an in rem action, civil forfeiture is not brought against a person, but rather against property. Hence, the case pits the prosecution against the property itself, which in this case acts as the defendant. This means that even though no charges may be pending against the owner of the property, the action against the property could lead to possible forfeiture. Meanwhile, administrative forfeiture is a related proceeding that permits an agency to bypass the court and seize property, such as money or imported items. For example, if you attempt to import something illegal, it can be seized by U.S. Customs without warning.
The civil forfeiture case gives the defendant a chance to fight back and protect the property. However, it is extremely difficult to defend against the federal government’s attorneys and vast resources. You, as the defendant, need a legal team by your side that will put in the hard work needed to achieve your desired case result. Call us now for a free initial case consultation and let us advise you on your unique case, including any potential civil forfeiture actions that may be involved.
Federal Civil Forfeiture Defense
The civil forfeiture allows the government to take money, homes, cars, and other properties suspected of being involved in criminal activity without actually bringing charges against a person. This creates an incentive for the federal government as well as federal agencies to pursue actions against property for profit, even when the evidence is not enough or insubstantial.
At Spodek Law group, our experienced lawyers will do whatever it takes to defend your property and prove you are the lawful and rightful owner. We know how stressful civil forfeiture can be, this is why we will protect you or your loved one against the seizure of your property and the many other related effects that allegations may cause. Work with us and we will guide you on what you can do to protect your interests and take over other aspects of your defense required to fully protect you from invasions of your freedom and constitutional rights.
If your property has been threatened by legal action, call us immediately to have a free initial case consultation. You may also contact us through our online enquiry form. We are constantly available to help and fight for you or your loved one—anytime.
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