Being the subject of a criminal investigation can present significant obstacles in a person’s life. In some cases, people facing criminal charges can lose personal property under asset forfeiture laws. If the police have recently confiscated anything you own, such as a vehicle, weapon, or even your house, speak with an Orlando asset seizure and forfeiture lawyer as soon as you can.
Asset forfeiture occurs when police take personal property that they believe a defendant used to commit a crime. Asset seizure is the taking of the property, while asset forfeiture takes place when the government takes over full property rights or ownership.
You have just days after police seize your assets to request a hearing to contest their actions. The sooner you acquire legal counsel, the stronger your representation can be at the hearing. Having a qualified asset forfeiture attorney on your side will improve your chances of recovering your property.
In Florida, the state can confiscate assets tied to criminal activity and assets that were believed to have been purchased using profits generated by crime. Civil asset forfeiture occurs when law enforcement officers take non-monetary property from a person who is under arrest. Criminal asset forfeiture takes place after the suspect has been convicted of an offense and the property’s connection to the crime has been proved.
Recently, Florida lawmakers amended the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Today, law enforcement officers can only take the non-monetary property if a person is under arrest for an offense that “forms the basis for determining that the property is contraband under article § 932.701.”
Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, a judge must find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the seized property was somehow involved in a crime. For example, the police may confiscate a car that a defendant used to transport controlled substances or one that he purchased with the profits from drug trafficking.
The seized property must be released within five days if a court fails to find reasonable cause for the forfeiture within ten days. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was involved in illegal activity. A criminal defense lawyer who has fought against asset seizures can challenge law enforcement’s justification for taking your property.
Although the state made it illegal for police to take people’s non-monetary property without charging people for a crime, state and local law enforcement agencies can bypass these laws by merging their asset forfeiture actions with those of federal agencies.
The U.S. Department of Justice has the authority to seize property associated with violations of federal law, and then assume title to that property, without placing anyone under arrest or conducting an investigation. Some believe the number of federal asset forfeiture cases has skyrocketed in recent years due to the fact that the cash and other assets seized often fund law enforcement programs. Over the past decade, the federal government has seized over $28 billion worth of assets through the Asset Forfeiture Program.
Forfeiture laws allow law enforcement officers to take assets or property of any size or value if they believe the assets are associated with a crime. Assets commonly seized in Orlando include:
In many cases, the government takes property from innocent property owners without a fight. Don’t allow this to happen to you; work with an attorney to request an adverse preliminary hearing.
An adverse preliminary hearing is the most effective way to fight for the government to return your property and raise any defenses that exist in the case. An attorney with The Umansky Law Firm can help you demand an adverse preliminary hearing and negotiate the return of your property. An attorney may be able to help you regain ownership of your property. It is crucial to request an adverse preliminary hearing immediately after you have received a Notice of Seizure of Personal Property.
Allow our experienced Orlando asset seizure and forfeiture lawyers to protect your rights and property. Call for a free case review or contact us online to discuss your asset forfeiture case. Our team of Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers is here to provide you with the legal representation you require.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys