Asset forfeiture is a nightmare for any person on the receiving end of it. When facing this possibility, learn how asset forfeiture works and its variations.

Civil Vs. Criminal Asset Forfeiture

With civil asset forfeiture, a person’s property is seized by law enforcement. The law enforcement agency retains the right to sell the property at will without charging a property owner with a crime. In most cases, this type of forfeiture is used in the federal branch to control organized crime operations. The strangest part of these cases is that objects are often named in the action. For example, a case could be written against a car or a home instead of a person.
Criminal asset forfeiture happens when law enforcement seizes property and charges the owner with a crime. For example, a person accused of hacking into government sites online would have his or her computers seized and would forfeit ownership if convicted. With criminal asset forfeiture, the person usually has to plead guilty, plead no contest or be found guilty for the property to be forfeited. However, there are some exceptions that legal professionals can explain in detail for specific cases.

Federal Vs. State Asset Forfeiture

Most asset forfeiture laws that are enforced are federal laws. For a crime to be tried by a United States court, it is often related to a serious felony charge. Federal agencies seize entire businesses, homes, vehicles and large amounts of personal belongings. In many state seizure cases, personal belongings are seized. If they are related to a charge resulting in a conviction, they may be kept. For example, a person who has an illegal weapon and is later convicted of the charge would not see the weapon again. The nature of the crime determines the level of the case. If the person in the previous illegal weapon example had a firearm that was illegal, it may be a state case. The weapon would still be seized. However, the incident could become a federal case if drugs were also found in the home. In that instance, the government could seize the weapon and all of the person’s property.
When facing possible asset forfeiture, always work with an experienced attorney who understands state, federal, civil and criminal seizure and forfeiture. Your property, future and freedom depend on good representation. Contact us today to get started!