Discovering that the government intends to take valuable property and possessions you have worked hard to obtain can be a distressing realization. Unfortunately, federal agents can take property they believe is tied to criminal activity with barely any evidence. When the government seizes property, the burden of proof falls on the owner of that property to show he or she legally acquired it. Proving to the government that you legitimately own your property is a task you should entrust to an experienced federal forfeiture defense lawyer.
Why can the government take my property?
Asset seizure is a civil action based on a criminal act. Federal agents with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and others may impose civil asset forfeiture on assets worth tens of thousands of dollars for any of the following reasons:
- They believe the asset was purchased with illegal funds
- They believe the asset was used to commit a crime
- They believe the owner is laundering money to avoid income tax
- A business faces civil allegations for violating the Patriot Act
Asset forfeiture is a common practice in drug crimes and white collar crimes. The federal government routinely takes real estate, vehicles, boats, private planes, bank accounts, and other assets they believe the suspects acquired through fraudulent means, illegal funds, or assets they believe were used to carry out a federal offense. In some cases, the government may seize business assets.
What is the difference between asset seizure and asset forfeiture?
Asset seizure and asset forfeiture are different actions that usually occur side by side. Asset seizure refers to the act of physically taking property. Asset forfeiture addresses the legal ownership of property. Forfeiture is when the government takes legal ownership of what was once yours. Asset forfeiture, therefore, deprives you of the title and ownership of your property.
How can an attorney help me protect my assets?
It is crucial to understand that, if the government has notified you of a seizure, you have rights at this time. You have the right to own private property and the right to due process.
Due process is the idea that a person has the right to challenge the government when the government seeks to take away one of his or her civil rights. When the government seizes your property, you have the right to contest its actions.
An attorney is an invaluable asset in helping you fight the government and keep your property in your name. You are strongly urged to seek the aid of a civil asset forfeiture lawyer in West Palm Beach if your property is at risk for government seizure. As soon as you receive a Notice of Forfeiture from a federal agency, contact your attorney. He or she has just a limited amount of time in which to file a claim to prevent the permanent forfeiture of your property.
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we work expeditiously to fight the seizure and forfeiture of assets by the government. Attorney Brian Gabriel has 25 years of experience fighting civil asset forfeiture in West Palm Beach. Allow us to help you maintain legal ownership of what’s yours. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or email us about your case.