Civil Seizures Attorney in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas Representing Clients Across America
Through seizure, the government merely takes possession of private property but forfeiture actually transfers ownership of private property from an individual or business to the government. In the federal system, efforts to forfeit can be made in the criminal and civil context.
In civil cases the property itself is named as the defendant in a lawsuit filed by a U.S. government agency. Usually, a prosecutor alleges that property was either used to facilitate a crime or that property constitutes proceeds of a crime.
Under federal law and the law of most states, there is no need for a prosecutor or law enforcement official to actually allege that a crime took place or to conduct a criminal investigation in order to seek the civil forfeiture of private property. For example, if someone is stopped for speeding and the driver has a warrant for other traffic cases, an officer can arrest the driver and then search the car. If the driver has cash that a drug dog alerts at, indicating that the cash has been in contact with narcotics in the past, then the officer can seize the cash as either proceeds of a past drug deal or as currency intended to acquire drugs in the future. It does not matter that the officer does not know of any facts relating to an actual drug deal such as a specific time or place or amount or even a specific buyer or seller. Rather, the officer only needs to establish a connection between the cash and an unidentified drug deal.
Civil forfeiture cases hold governmental agencies to a much lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Without having to prove that an actual drug deal took place or is going to take place, the government does not need to expend much energy establishing the commission of crime. Instead, circumstantial evidence as thin as a drug dog indication or the absence of current employment can justify most warrantless seizures.
Sometimes, however, civil seizures and civil forfeiture cases are attached to major state or federal criminal investigations. For example, if a person is thought to be defrauding Medicare and puts billing revenue from Medicare into a bank account, a prosecutor may seek a seizure warrant and initiate a civil forfeiture case. If the account holder is being investigated for fraud, then he or she will be put into a catch 22 where a decision will be made whether to contest the forfeiture and risk being cross examined by prosecutors or simply giving up the money. Anyone that finds themselves in this situation needs to hire counsel immediately to protect their freedom and their assets.
EXPERT ASSET FORFEITURE DEFENSE LAWYERS
The Asset Forfeiture Group at Brown, PC has many years of criminal trial experience and deep experience in civil and criminal forfeiture matters. Our experienced asset forfeiture team includes trial attorneys, CPAs, former IRS agents and former U.S. Department of Justice asset forfeiture attorneys. When individuals face threats to their assets and freedom, the Asset Forfeiture Group at Brown, PC quickly takes steps to assert necessary claims and defenses and seeks the quickest return of property possible. We can also integrate an asset protection strategy in conjunction with an accused’s existing criminal defense team. We are available to handle both criminal and asset forfeiture matters for clients, or we can add deep and sophisticated asset forfeiture experience to a client’s existing criminal defense team.