It is unfortunate that with little or no proof, the government has the authority to seize a person’s assets or invoke a penalty against the person. In many cases, that person does not know how to fight back to have their property returned. Whether it bank accounts, vehicles or homes, if your assets have been taken without due process, you need a law firm willing to fight the government for you. Never allow yourself to be a victim of the government’s decision to engage in criminal asset forfeiture.
What the Law Permits the Government to Seize
Essentially, the law gives the government permission to take the following assets:
• Money or valuable items used, or for the intended use of facilitating drug law violations
• Money or other valuable items that are supplied or intended to be supplied by one individual in exchange for controlled substances
• Any and all proceeds from a transaction that might be traceable to a controlled substance exchange
• Property involved in an attempted transaction or completed one that violates a long list of offenses
Perhaps your assets were taken under questionable circumstances that do not align with the law. You have a right to a legal defense against unlawful seizures and improper processes. Our team can help to restore your property in a timely manner. We have former prosecutors who are now asset forfeiture lawyers and have successfully handled many cases for our clients in New York.
Your counsel will help you decide on the best defense, but keep in mind that there are timing issues to consider. Otherwise, you might lose the opportunity to present your strongest defense against the government. For instance, there are several timing deadlines critical to a successful case such as providing a notice of seizure within 60 days of taking action against your property. If the government neglects to comply, your attorney can file a motion under Rule 41(g) according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. If actions are not taken quickly, you may risk losing your property. In many cases, acting quickly means doing so within 30 days.
Challenges to Asset Forfeiture
There are several theories and defenses that can be used to challenge asset forfeiture. In some cases, the seizure could lack probable cause. In other cases, the government might not be able to show that the money they seized did not come from a legitimate source. The following information provides an overview of defenses your asset forfeiture lawyer may want to explore.
Innocent owner – this is considered the most important defense to raise. As an innocent party who can show ownership of the property the government seized, you will need to show that you were unaware that your property was being used illegally. Unlike other areas of criminal law, you are not automatically presumed innocent of this or as a bona fide purchaser. The burden of proof is on you to show the court your innocence before the property is returned to you.
Notice – if you did not receive sufficient notice about a forfeiture action, your lawyer may use this as grounds to have your property returned.
Illegal search – an illegal search and seizure violates your 4th Amendment rights and may provide a defense where no probable cause existed for the seizure.
Unreasonable fine – According to the 8th Amendment, you are protected from fines that are unreasonable and disproportionate to the alleged crime. This means that the government cannot deprive you of more than a set amount of money in the context of asset forfeiture.
Statutory and miscellaneous – other defenses related to forfeiture cases include the protection of certain types of bank accounts. Further, property seizures cannot be linked to misdemeanor offenses.
Call Our Law Firm to Protect Your Assets
Collectively, the asset forfeiture lawyers at Sullivan Brill have many years of experience and knowledge about the laws related to your case. Having served as prosecutors, we stand on a firm foundation of advocacy and providing the best defense for our clients. Call us today to ensure we meet the strict timelines to fight for the return of your assets. Let our experience and knowledge work for your interests when the government is working against you.