What Is Asset Forfeiture?

In cases where government authorities seize money and property, special rules apply. The practice of asset forfeiture and the laws governing its execution are not widely known, even among seasoned lawyers. In many ways, asset forfeiture is a new field of law, and it requires highly specific legal knowledge and training to effectively build such cases. Pruden Law is skilled in representing clients engaged in reclaiming their money and property from the government. In some cases, one lawyer might be as good as another, but not when the case involves asset forfeiture. In asset forfeiture cases, experience and familiarity with the precise laws and procedure involved frequently make the difference between success and failure in defense.

Under federal law there are three delineations of asset forfeiture: criminal forfeiture, civil judicial forfeiture, and administrative forfeiture.

Criminal Forfeiture: Criminal forfeiture is brought as part of a criminal prosecution of a defendant. It is an in personam (against the person) action and requires that the government indict the property used or derived from the crime along with the defendant. In criminal forfeiture, an individual has the right to contest the seizure through trial proceedings.

Civil Judicial Forfeiture: Civil judicial forfeiture is a judicial process that does not require a criminal conviction and is a legal tool that allows law enforcement to seize property that is involved in a crime. Referred to as an in rem (against the property) action, it is an action filed against the property itself, rather than a person. In civil judicial forfeiture, an individual has the right to contest the seizure through trial proceedings.

Administrative Forfeiture: The majority of federal forfeiture cases are uncontested even if there is a related criminal case. Administrative forfeiture occurs when a property is seized but no one files a claim to contest the seizure. Property that can be administratively forfeited includes merchandise prohibited from importation; a conveyance used to import, transport, or store a controlled substance; a monetary instrument; or other property that does not exceed $500,000 in value. Houses and other real property may not be forfeited administratively. Federal law imposes strict deadlines and notification requirements in the administrative forfeiture process. If the seizure is contested, then the U.S. government is required to use either criminal or civil judicial forfeiture proceedings to gain title to the property.

Don’t allow the government to keep your money, property, and possessions. William Pruden is well-prepared to help you reclaim what is rightfully yours.


This article does not contain or express any legal advice or professional counsel.


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