Why You Need an Asset Forfeiture Lawyer
Unfortunately, average Americans have become targets for asset seizure and forfeiture under civil forfeiture laws. According to a report by the Institute for Justice, at least $6.8 billion in assets have been forfeited by both state and federal governments since 2000. In this context, the value of seized assets and items does not have to be proportional to the alleged crime for which they were taken.
For example, if it was found that your teenager was selling drugs while using your car, law enforcement could confiscate your vehicle and you could lose it through forfeiture even though you did not commit the crime and knew nothing about it. Both state and federal prosecutors commonly take aggressive action to confiscate assets and property and bully individuals into submission.
Asset Forfeiture in Civil & Criminal Cases
Assets and property can be seized by the government when evidence suggests that it was used to commit an offense or the assets were obtained due to criminal activity. According to the Department of Justice, the goals of asset forfeiture include:
- The punishment and determent of criminal activity by depriving offenders of property and assets
- The promotion of cooperation among law enforcement agencies
- The recovery of assets to compensate victims of crimes
These assets can include:
- Cash and securities
- Bank accounts
- Real property and vacant land
- Devices used in child exploitation
Examples can include law enforcement seizing kilos of drugs in a drug trafficking case, equipment used to manufacture drugs, computer equipment used to commit internet fraud, or equipment used to make counterfeit goods or products.
Once assets are seized, they may be forfeited, which means owners of the property will lose them. The assets and property can then be used by governmental agencies; they can be kept or sold with all of the profits of the sale retained by law enforcement and other governmental agencies.
In seizing assets, the state or federal government can only do so with probable cause that the assets to be confiscated were related to unlawful activity. Governmental entities are required to follow procedural rules when doing so. Seizures can take place both with and without warrants, depending on the circumstances.
Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Serving Clients Throughout the U.S. & Abroad
New York and U.S. criminal and civil codes have been enacted to prevent people and groups from making profits off of unlawful activities, such as in white-collar crimes and drug trafficking cases. These laws make it possible for law enforcement or civil authorities to seize property they believe to have been obtained illegally based on criminal activity evidence. While these laws have been established to disable large-scale criminal operators by stripping them of their resources, they are often abused and used unjustly, creating major problems for ordinary citizens.
At the Law Offices of Steven L. Kessler, we have been at the forefront of assisting clients who have had property and assets unjustly seized by authorities. These are typically complex cases; those who have lost property through civil forfeiture generally find it extremely difficult and costly to fight back, where the expense of the process may exceed the value of the lost assets. Whether your property has been seized in a criminal or civil case, seeking the help of our asset forfeiture attorney based in New York is the most important step you can take to recover what is rightfully yours.
Request a confidential consultation with our asset forfeiture attorney based in New York and serving nationwide clients by contacting Steven L. Kessler online or at (888) 708-6009.