Fighting a forfeiture action is a beat-the-clock situation. Many people who would be able to recover thousands of dollars or more in forfeited cash simply do not file their objections in time and then are precluded by law from objecting. The federal law authorizing civil asset forfeiture drastically limits the time allowed to object to forfeitures. See 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(2). It allows agencies like the DEA to give you only 35 days to file a claim so that a judge can determine whether you are entitled to the money or property seized. The alternative method is to make a request with the agency itself to return the property. In that case, the agency may deny your claim and keep your money if you fail to file a petition with them in 30 days. As you can imagine, asking the agency to voluntarily give the property back is an uphill battle.Read more
Civil forfeiture is one of the most shocking and devastating tools at the disposal of state and federal prosecutors. Essentially, civil forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to take property from a citizen that the officer believes to be contraband of a crime, even if no charges are ever filed against the person. In fact, property can be seized even if it is owned by a completely innocent person. Often times, officers seize large quantities of cash without any other indication that the money has been used in illegal activities. Shockingly, if you are driving on the highway and an officer sees that you have a bag full of cash, he can take it on the spot without charging you with a crime.Read more
When you get charged with a crime, one of the first things your defense attorney will do is request the “discovery,” or the evidence that the prosecution has gathered on you. Your defense attorney looks at this evidence very carefully, because even though the prosecution may have a piece of evidence that incriminates you, they may not actually be able to use that evidence against you. This is an issue of admissibility—can that particular piece of evidence actually be shown to the jury and used against you at trial? This is different than weight: even if a piece of evidence is admissible, how reliable is it? How strongly should the jury consider it?Read more
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, more commonly known as FinCEN, is a bureau within the U.S. Treasury Department that analyzes and examines financial transactions in order to combat money laundering and promote national security. The Secretary of the Treasury appoints the director of FinCEN, who reports to the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.Read more
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