How do I fight Asset Forfeiture?

There are three types of Asset Forfeiture.

Note if your asset has been SEIZED, that means the government has taken possession of your property, but it does not mean the government owns the property legally YET….See here for details on the most recent DOJ seizures and forfeiture manual.

Criminal Forfeiture

This is taken verbatim from DOJ website

In personam (against the person) action against a defendant that includes notice of the intent to forfeit property in a criminal indictment. A criminal conviction is required, and forfeiture is part of the defendant’s sentence. Criminal forfeiture is limited to the property interests of the defendant, including any proceeds earned by the defendant’s illegal activity. Criminal forfeiture is generally limited to the property involved in the particular counts on which the defendant is convicted. As part of sentencing, a court may order the forfeiture of a specific property listed in the indictment, a sum of money as a money judgment, or other property as substitute property. The government must establish by a preponderance of the evidence the requisite connection between the crime of conviction and the asset. After a preliminary order of forfeiture is entered, a separate, ancillary proceeding begins to determine any third-party ownership interests in the property the government seeks to forfeit. The court then will enter a final order of forfeiture

Civil Forfeiture

In rem (against the property) court proceeding brought against property that was derived from or used to commit an offense, rather than against a person who committed an offense. Unlike criminal forfeiture, there is no criminal conviction required, although the government is still required to prove in court by a preponderance of evidence that the property was linked to criminal activity. The proceeding allows the court to gather anyone with an interest in the property in the same case and resolve all the issues with the property at one time.

In a civil forfeiture case, the government is the plaintiff, the property is considered the defendant, and any person who claims an interest in the property is a claimant. Civil forfeiture allows the government to file cases against property that would not be reachable through criminal forfeiture, such as property of fugitives, terrorists, and other criminals located outside the United States. Civil forfeiture also permits recovery of assets of defendants who have died or where the wrongdoer cannot be identified.

Administrative Forfeiture

In rem (against the property) action that permits personal property to be forfeited to the United States without filing a case in federal court. The administrative forfeiture process occurs before the agency that seized the assets when no one has filed a claim contesting the seizure. There are many procedural requirements, including strict time limits and noticing requirements, designed to protect the interests and rights of property holders. Any seizure of property subject to administrative forfeiture must be based on probable cause. The primary benefit of administrative forfeiture is to avoid burdening the courts with judicial actions when no one contests the forfeiture of the seized property.

This last one (administrative forfeiture) needs translated a bit. You need to first assert a claim to the property and then it goes to the civil forfeiture route.

A person who files an administrative petition is not contesting the forfeiture. The petitioner either wants his/her interest in the asset to be recognized or is a victim of the crime(s) underlying the forfeiture. If the asset is forfeited to the government, the petitioner wants to be compensated for his/her interest.

But, a person who files an administrative claim is contesting the seizure and is requesting to pursue the matter in court. The claimant believes the asset was not part of an illegal activity and was not purchased through ill-gotten gains.  To contest forfeiture in federal court you must file a claim.

Once you file a timely claim, it will stop the administrative forfeiture proceeding and it is then forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further proceedings.

Any time deadlines are missed, the assets may be forfeited to the government.  In just ONE year, in just ONE district, the Northern District of Georgia was responsible for collections and forfeitures of over $31 million in Fiscal Year 2023.

Please contact us so we can help you protect your assets.



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