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
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