What is Civil Forfeiture?
Civil forfeiture is a process where the government can legally seize (and sell) your property without charging you with a crime. A law enforcement officer or agency simply has to state that they believe the property was used in a crime or was intended to be used in a crime, such as money to purchase drugs.
Civil forfeiture is often referred to by its critics as, “policing for profit.” When a law enforcement officer seizes your property, for example, your home, they can sell it right out from under you. In the State of Alabama, law enforcement agencies keep 100% of the proceeds from seized assets. And there are very few limitations on how they can spend the funds from asset seizure. Law enforcement agencies are not required to report the revenue from seized assets or how the money is spent.
Some of the most common assets seized under civil forfeiture law are homes, cars, boats, cash, rare coins, cellphones, computers and other electronic equipment, jewelry and more. Strategic litigation is necessary to have a hope of getting your property back. This is not a situation where you should attempt to go up against the government by yourself. A criminal attorney who is knowledgeable in civil forfeiture law and has experience fighting asset seizure cases in court will be able to fight for your rights and keep you informed throughout the entire process.
You might think that being innocent will guarantee the return of your property, but that isn’t the case. Under civil forfeiture, your property (not you) is guilty until you prove it innocent. And your possessions have fewer protections under the law than you do. With the burden on you, the owner of the property, it is imperative that you hire an attorney experienced in handling civil forfeiture cases. Hiring a criminal defense attorney means you have a fighting chance to keep your cash.
Civil forfeiture law is a serious threat to every citizen’s property rights. If you need legal advice regarding forfeiture law and asset seizure, make sure you contact an attorney who is experienced with the law and handling civil forfeiture cases. You need the best team on your side to have a hope of getting your property back.
There is often a small window of time in which the property owner can challenge the asset seizure. Time is of the essence, and you need an expert on your side. A criminal attorney will make sure you get a hearing in front of a judge and help explain all the complicated ins and outs of the case. Seeking the advice of an asset seizure attorney can make all the difference and help you get back what is rightly yours.
When you contact a criminal attorney regarding your civil forfeiture case, make sure you bring any documentation or correspondence you have received regarding the case. The more information your attorney has, the faster they will be able to get to work. And remember, don’t wait to take action after your assets have been seized.