You might not be surprised to learn that your personal property can be seized by law enforcement if it is determined to be connected to the commission of a federal crime. Some of the cases that result in asset seizure include drug crimes, fraud, homicide, racketeering, white collar crimes, and vehicular crimes. Not only can a person’s property be taken, but it is also often difficult to have that property returned after a seizure. As a result, if you face a seizure or a seizure has already occurred, it is important to obtain the assistance of seasoned legal counsel who understands the unique body of laws that come into consideration in these situations.
The Origins of Asset Seizure Law
The root of property seizure extend to the Prohibition era of the 1920s. The rationale behind property seizure is that because the property is connected to the crime, a person need not be formally charged before law enforcement confiscates the property. Additionally, law enforcement also often argues that seizure of property helps to defeat any criminal operations or drug trafficking rings as well as deter offenders from repeating the criminal behavior in the future.
The Scope of Asset Law
One of the best ways to prepare against property seizure is to understand that federal law enforcement is able to seize any property that is believed to have either come from criminal activity or associated with a criminal offense. In some cases, the family members of a person being charged with criminal activity can also have their property obtained.
How Asset Seizure Occurs
A person’s assets are seized in accordance with an arrest, consent, a search warrant, or with a seizure order. Most often, federal law enforcement seizures contraband, which encompasses illegal drugs and weapons. In addition to contraband, government agents can also collect proceeds from things like bank account funds, cash, houses, or vehicles. After seizure occurs, a person’s assets are stored in a manner similar to how evidence in criminal cases is held.
Defenses to Forfeiture Cases
Two of the strongest defenses that a person can raise in forfeiture cases include the following:
- The Property Seized was Not Involved in the Crime. A strong defense can be established if a person can successfully argue that the property seized was not associated with a criminal offense.
- The Property’s Owner was Not Aware of the Criminal Nature of the Property. Property owners are sometimes able to raise a strong defense if they can establish that they owned the property that was seized and were not aware of its relationship to illegal activity.
Contact a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has had personal property seized by federal law enforcement or at risk of being subject to a property seizure, it is important to speak with a seasoned attorney. The legal counsel at the Federal Criminal Law Center has been involved in many property asset cases and can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. Contact our law office today for assistance.