Lake County Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Lawyer

When someone is under investigation or has been charged with criminal activity, there are multiple legal consequences that they could face in addition to fines or prison. These punitive actions could include seizure and even forfeiture of certain assets if state or federal officials believe that these assets were derived from, connected to, or played a role in carrying out an underlying crime.

A Lake County asset seizure and forfeiture lawyer should be your first call when you are facing such actions by local or federal law enforcement. If you are under investigation for a crime or have been charged with one, you need to contact a defense attorney who could vigorously protect your rights and help defend you against all legal consequences, including the loss of your assets.

Local Seizure and Forfeiture Laws

Every state has its own laws regarding asset seizure and forfeiture, in addition to standards concerning these measures that are regulated at the federal level. Assets that can be seized if they are believed to be the proceeds of a crime or connected to a crime in any way range from real property (homes or land) to personal property (from vehicles to jewelry) to money. A Lake County attorney could provide insight about a pending or ongoing seizure and forfeiture action while aggressively pushing back against potential abuses of power by authorities.

Criminal and Civil Forfeiture

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of asset seizure and forfeiture: criminal and civil. Criminal forfeiture involves a punitive action taken directly against an individual who has been found guilty of criminal activity, while civil forfeiture is a measure taken against that individual’s property specifically.

This means that civil forfeiture typically involves a lower proof standard, and a criminal conviction of the property owner is not required to seize the assets in question. In Florida specifically, the law only recognizes civil forfeiture. The result has been rampant abuses of power by law enforcement over the years, given the broad legal parameters surrounding civil forfeiture.

Change in Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Law

Recent legislative action has narrowed the requirements for civil forfeiture to some extent. State law enforcement must now meet a higher burden of proof to carry out asset seizure and forfeiture, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the assets are connected to criminal activity.

Except for money, law enforcement is now only able to seize property when the owner has been arrested for a crime. Courts are also now required to assess that law enforcement had probable cause to carry out the seizure and forfeiture. If they did not, that forfeiture must be released after five days. A Lake County attorney could press for the release of assets that were seized without cause.

Challenging Seizure and Forfeiture

Although the requirements to carry out asset seizure and forfeiture are more stringent now than in the past, there are still ways for state authorities to side-step these requirements. For example, if the case involves both federal and local officials, state law enforcement may carry out asset seizure and forfeiture actions under federal requirements where the burden of proof diverges from the recent changes in local law.

A Lake County attorney could defend clients dealing with asset seizure and forfeiture situations involving law enforcement overreach. For example, it may be possible to defend an action by showing law enforcement lacked probable cause to seize some or all the assets in question, or even to conduct the original search in the first place. Demonstrating that the assets were used without the owner’s knowledge in the furtherance of criminal activity can also be a plausible defense to a seizure and forfeiture action.

Timeline to Contest Forfeiture

Time is of the essence with these cases. The law requires anyone who wishes to contest a forfeiture action must do so within 20 days after they are provided with the complaint for forfeiture and a finding of probable cause. An attorney could ensure any available legal action is taken promptly, represent the defendant at hearings, and file necessary documentation.

Call a Lake County Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Attorney

Although recent changes to Florida’s asset forfeiture law are more favorable to those accused of committing crimes, there is still considerable room for misuse and abuse by law enforcement. There could also be multiple potential defenses available to fight back against a seizure or forfeiture action, but you need to retain an attorney who understands these complex procedures.

A Lake County asset seizure and forfeiture lawyer could fully defend your rights while seeking a favorable outcome to any other proceedings you are currently facing. Contact our office today to speak with a respected attorney about your case.

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    Lake County Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Lawyer