Criminal Forfeitures/Seized Assets
The State of Florida and the Federal government allow law enforcement to seize and forfeit property. Forfeitures can be either civil or criminal. If the Government is successful and is able to keep the seized property, it can either destroy it, sell it, keep the proceeds (if it is cash) and/or use it.
A criminal forfeiture action is brought as part of a criminal case. It requires that charges be filed against a defendant and the property used or derived from the crime as well. Usually, an individual is convicted of a crime before the Government is able to forfeit any seized property. If the individual enters into a guilty plea, the court will most likely order any seized property be forfeited based on the terms of the plea agreement.
When there are no criminal charges filed against an individual, an action is brought as a civil forfeiture for the property at issue when an individual is suspected of being involved in illegal activity. This is a civil case that will require a judge to determine whether the property at issue should be subject to forfeiture.
An administrative forfeiture permits a federal or state agency such as the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Justice, and a sheriff’s office from a local county to forfeit property without the filing of an action in court. This means there is no judge involved who will determine whether you should get the property back.
The government is required to give notice to the owner of the seized property that it is subject to forfeiture and an individual will always have an opportunity to challenge the seizure. However, there are deadlines in which to do so and it is therefore important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney before proceeding to do so.
It is always the best advice to obtain experienced lawyers with a track record of success. The attorneys at Law Offices of Paul D. Petruzzi, P.A. have helped many individuals get their property back that has been unjustly seized by the government. Call us today for your free case evaluation.