Civil forfeiture, also called civil seizure, or civil judicial forfeiture, is a controversial legal process in the United States in which law enforcement officers take assets from people suspected of being involved in a crime or some sort of illegal activity. The problem with forfeiture cases is that the person suspected of being involved with a crime or illegal activity will not be necessarily charged with a crime or wrongdoing.
Civil forfeiture is a controversial legal process. Sometimes, the law enforcement officers will simply threaten to seize property, or anything of value, such as gold, cash, real estate, a boat or a house. The actual act of seizure itself also falls under forfeiture if the officers suspect that it was being used in a crime. Those in favor of civil forfeiture see it as a powerful tool to thwart criminal activities and organizations. However, critics argue that the act itself leads to corruption and misbehavior by the law enforcement. There is an ongoing debate as to whether the overall benefits of forfeiture outweigh the drawbacks.
If the rightful property owner does not act in time by hiring the right asset forfeiture attorney, the government may gain control of the property. Therefore, the most important and smartest thing you can do is to seek legal advice as soon as possible if your property has been seized. At times, the government may seize everything the person has, depriving him or her of any financial means which they can use to defend themselves.
What causes asset forfeiture?
There are hundreds of federal and state statutes which may trigger asset forfeiture. These statutes allow the government to seize property if they are able to prove that the property was being used for illegal activity. The law does not require this connection to be substantial, even sufficient proof will be enough for the government to seize the property. If the rightful owners do not act in time, the government will be able to gain that property without doing anything. In a lot of cases, the government will use any trick possible in order to seize the property, therefore, it is advised to hire an asset forfeiture attorney to claim the property rights back.
Defending Forfeiture Cases
Depending on the specific facts of the case, you might have a strong defense against the forfeiture. Depending on the state you are in, your attorney can use viable defenses under the federal law to win your case. In some cases, the so-called third party “innocent owner” defense may be used. This defense tries to prove that the owner was not aware that the property was illegally obtained, particularly if it is rented. Usually, the tenant is not aware that the property they are using was previously used for an illegal activity.
A highly skilled and experienced asset forfeiture attorney may be able to prevent the forfeiture of the property or vehicle by proving that the property or vehicle is used for family chores, such as taking the kids to school. Even if you do not have proof to show your innocence, an experienced attorney can still fight and be able to win your case. The attorney can destroy the government’s case and get the confiscated property returned to you. To contact an attorney for your forfeiture case, call the law offices of David Michael Cantor at (602) 307-0808.