If you or some loved one of yours has been faced with asset forfeiture, you might want to know all about this. You may not be sure what this includes and what to do next. Continue reading on to learn more.
What is asset forfeiture?
You may be asking yourself this question. Asset forfeiture happens when assets or maybe property get confiscated by the state. This is sometimes referred to by other names, like “asset seizure” or “confiscation.”
When looking at this in the context of some criminal case, then criminal asset forfeiture lets the government take the property of individuals who have gotten convicted of particular crimes.
This often happens where the particular property is employed to further a particular crime or is connected to some crime.
The main purpose of a criminal asset forfeiture tends to be to aid in disrupting the criminal activity and prevent the property from actually being utilized for further criminal conduct.
Mostly it is money that gets confiscated, like when authorities take the profits acquired from drug sales. When looking at criminal forfeiture, this is often connected with certain kinds of criminal activity, like:
- Drug connected crimes, mainly distribution as well as manufacturing of illegal type of drugs;
- Terrorist activities;
- Those crimes that involve the storage along with the manufacture of illegal guns;
- The warehouse activity that involves the counterfeit type of products;
- Violations that involve patented or even copyrighted goods;
- Certain other kinds of criminal activity.
For instance, an individual convicted of making drugs within their home may face some government seizure of the said home. The seizure, in this case, happens to stop this person (or maybe a criminal organization) from keeping on producing these illegal drugs.
The ways that criminal asset forfeiture tends to be different than civil asset forfeiture
You may want to know the difference present between these two. Some civil cases can even involve some aspects consisting of asset forfeiture. But, civil asset forfeiture cases may involve some different factors and aspects in comparison to criminal asset forfeiture.
To start with, when it comes to some criminal asset forfeiture case, your property gets seized by the government because the owner does wrongful actions. But civil forfeiture does not need a criminal conviction or even wrongdoing. Moreover, the property gets seized because of some other reason. This may include failure to be able to pay taxes, for instance.
Sometimes these phrases tend to be utilized interchangeably. There tends to be a difference present between cities as well as criminal forfeiture. Other differences among criminal plus civil asset forfeiture cases encompass:
- The standard of proof tends to be higher when it comes to a criminal case;
- The state generally gives the defendant some attorney within criminal cases;
- Criminal assets which were seized may sometimes get utilized to fund state activities, like recruiting or even placing more officers within the force;
- Civil forfeiture is often federal; nevertheless, criminal forfeiture often follows state laws.
Is it possible for the government to take any property that someone owns?
This is another important thing that you should know. Not every property tends to be subject when it comes to criminal asset forfeiture. Looking at this generally, the government is only able to take property that meets one or even both criteria below:
- The property was employed during a crime;
- The property was obtained particularly as a result of some criminal activity.
For instance, looking at the first category, some car may get seized by the government because it was utilized to transport drugs. Because the property got used when the crime committed occurred, it may become subject specifically to criminal asset forfeiture.
Looking at the second category, items like automobiles and homes can usually be seized when bought with money coming from selling illegal weapons, drugs, and other contraband.
When figuring out whether to make some seizure, the government tends to look at an individual’s property to figure out if this meets the below requirements:
- Talking the particular property is even allowed under state and federal forfeiture laws;
- The specific owner of the property got convicted or is actually in the process of becoming convicted of some crime;
- The government can justify taking partial property from the owner.
“Innocent Owner” Defense
You may have heard of this but are not sure what it is. When looking at the “innocent owner defense,” this may sometimes get raised by the particular defendant to keep their property getting forfeited within a criminal case.
The defendant claims that the property should not get forfeited as they are innocent of the proposed crime connected to the property. To be able to claim this specific defense, the defendant may often prove that they were not involved in the crime and also:
- They lacked knowledge concerning the crime;
- They did not provide consent to the crime happening.
For instance, the case may have occurred that the property owner may have left the property for some months to go on a trip in another country, maybe without having the owner’s consent and without their knowledge.
Some people came into the property then used it to store as well as transfer drugs. When the drug operation gets brought down, the owner may employ the innocent owner’s defense to stop the house from confiscated. They did not know that the illegal activity was occurring and did not consent to it.
When looking at administrative forfeiture, this happens when the government seizes property that no person properly “claims,” particularly before the specified claim deadline expires. When the seized property gets so “abandoned,” then its title passes specifically to the government, and that without the matter ever actually being litigated within the court.
Getting an asset forfeiture attorney
Those people who suddenly experience loss of property and without compensation can intimidate the person if they are not even conscious of some law enforcement agencies’ ability to seize your lawfully-acquired property.
Some property owners who do not have experience with the nuances involved with law enforcement investigations may think that they can easily talk their way out from their asset getting confiscated. They often prejudice their potential to prevail by not getting the help of legal counsel in the beginning.
Some effective forfeiture defense needs an experienced legal team that has a good understanding concerning the lengthy plus complex process involved in property recovery and property loss prevention present under the law. You need to know that time is important in cases that involve asset forfeiture along with property confiscation.
You can look for some firm that has experience dealing with different cases of this sort. The lawyer should concentrate on protecting the property you have while defending you upon criminal charges within the state and federal courts.
Looking at this generally, the asset forfeiture procedure starts with the partial or even complete confiscation of property that can occur after some court issues the warrant based upon an allegation which states that probable causes are present concerning the property being used in or may be derived from some crime, or after the police seize the property without some warrant and also determine to allege the particular property being tainted by crime.
You can see from the above that asset forfeiture tends to be serious. You need to look for a good attorney who can help you deal with the complicated process. Be sure to ask how much the attorney will charge you. Also, look for an experienced and reputable attorney who will be able to cause no loss to you and your property. It would help if you spent time finding someone professional and good who has much experience in this field. You can even ask if they have handled these kinds of cases.
Forfeiture claims deadlines
Some person who has gotten notice of civil or even administrative forfeiture will only have limited time to respond. Whether the notice is even governed by federal or even state law, whether it tends to be civil or criminal within nature, different procedures apply and even different deadlines that govern the time which some property owner has to respond.
You should know that the claim deadlines will be strictly enforced. When someone gets such a notice, they may be eligible to file some property recovery claim. Nevertheless, they must act promptly.
It would help if you also spoke with counsel before filing a claim, as filing some careless claim may subject you to unwanted criminal prosecution. You can contact a good Asset Forfeiture Lawyer to figure out what your choices are before these expire.
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