Oftentimes, property is wrongfully seized. If law enforcement officers seize your money, car, or other property, a criminal defense attorney can help protect what’s yours from this wrongful civil asset forfeiture.
What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?
Civil asset forfeiture became commonplace during the war on drugs in the 1980s. This forfeiture was intended to confiscate illegitimate gains from drug kingpins and cartels. These seizures provide a massive source of revenue to cities, counties, and states.
However, it seems that the problem with civil forfeiture is less a problem with individual police officers and more a problem with the civil forfeiture laws themselves. Police admit that civil forfeiture creates a potent temptation to seize property. One police chief referred to forfeiture funds as “pennies from heaven.” This may point to the need for reform in civil asset forfeiture law.
People tend to think asset forfeiture could never happen to them. They assume it only happens to criminals. Often, this is not the case. You might be unable to keep the government from seizing your property even if you are entirely innocent. In such circumstances, civil asset forfeiture challenges and limits the rights you likely take for granted.
For example, suppose you are on your way to buy a new car and have a substantial amount of cash with you. On the way, you are pulled over for a tail light violation. The police see the money and seize it, claiming it must be drug money. You have no criminal record and were not committing a crime. Yet, your money is gone. As this example demonstrates, law enforcement has overwhelming power in such cases. They can both seize and forfeit property without having to substantiate their claims.
Indeed, you do not need to be convicted of a crime to have your money or property taken by civil asset forfeiture. Your property is given criminal charges instead. This allows law enforcement agencies to seize it freely. Civil forfeiture lawsuits do provide innocent property owners a means to reclaim their property, but the burden of proof is usually placed on the owner, not the government. Owners must then prove that they were innocent of any assumed criminal activity.
Get Professional Legal Help for Civil Asset Forfeiture
Property seizures go the wrong way far too often. And in the end, those who are wrongfully accused and their blameless family members are frequently unable to recover their property.
A criminal defense lawyer can make a case for you. These knowledgeable attorneys have comprehensive work experience with criminal cases over the years. They help clients recover what is truly and rightfully theirs. If you’ve been a victim of civil asset forfeiture, you are well-advised to seek the advice of a qualified and highly capable criminal defense attorney.
A criminal defense attorney, like one of the criminal lawyers in Elizabeth, NJ from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C. will review your circumstances and discuss your options with you. Then, your lawyer will advocate on your behalf for the return of your wrongfully seized property. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact a criminal defense lawyer today to schedule a consultation.