Have your assets recently been forfeited? If so, you may be wondering what is going on and if what the government has done, what it’s taken from you, is even legal. Criminal asset forfeiture occurs when a criminal’s assets are seized and transferred to the government. Asset forfeiture typically involves the following three steps:
- Seizing cash, property, or other items that are linked to a criminal offense,
- Transferring ownership of the above items to the government, and
- The proceeds of the seizures are then used to support various local and state law enforcement activities.
What is the goal of asset forfeiture? Its primary goal is to punish, deter, and disrupt criminal activities by taking (seizing) the items that were 1) used to conduct the criminal activity, and 2) acquired through illegal activity. However, an alleged criminal’s rights are not to be ignored. Individuals who are subject to government seizures must have their due process rights upheld.
To prevent abuses from occurring, state and federal law are in place that requires the assets obtained through asset forfeitures to be distributed to law enforcement agencies and they can only be used to supplement their budgets, not replace them.
“Individuals can contest seizures for various reasons. For example, individuals can claim that the seizure was inappropriate (such as not complying with statutorily mandated procedures). Individuals can also claim that they had no knowledge of the suspected criminal activity (such as an individual unknowingly loaning a vehicle to another person who uses it for illegal purposes),” according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Asset Forfeiture Abuse
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has raised awareness about asset forfeiture abuse, stating that “Police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws has shaken our nation’s confidence.” The ACLU goes on to say that today, many police departments are using forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures that are profit-motivated instead of being about crime-fighting.
If your assets are being forfeited, we urge you to contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed to schedule a free case evaluation!