Westchester Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Defense Attorney

When the federal or state government seizes your property, the process of re-obtaining ownership can be a long and complex one that is rife with time limits, court proceedings, and red tape. Forfeiture is the process by which the government attempts to take ownership of your seized property. Many times, assets are seized as evidence of a criminal case or criminal prosecution; however, there are many instances of law enforcement agencies seizing cash, assets, and other property without any type of warrant or proof of criminal wrongdoing. This unwarranted seizure can be especially frustrating for those who must now go through great lengths to recover property that is rightfully theirs.

Over half a million dollars recovered for our clients in 2016 alone. Our recovery rate is over 75%.

At the Law Offices of Richard A. Portale, P.C., our Westchester asset seizure and forfeiture defense lawyers understand the huge imposition that government seizures present on your life and are well versed in the procedural demands of asset forfeiture. Whether you have been the victim of criminal asset forfeiture or civil asset forfeiture, the assistance of an asset forfeiture attorney is imperative to recovering your belongings before time to do so runs out.

Criminal Asset Forfeiture

When property is seized as part of a criminal asset forfeiture, it means illegal activity allegedly took place and law enforcement agencies are now seizing the proceeds that they believe the defendant acquired as a result of the alleged crime. In this case, the defendant’s criminal case must be resolved before the asset forfeiture is dealt with. It is important to note that even if the defendant is found guilty of illegal activity, the government may only seize property that was tied to criminal conduct. Therefore, the government is not entitled to any property that is linked to charges that the defendant was acquitted of. Only after a defendant’s criminal case is resolved by a plea agreement, dismissal by court, or non-guilty trial verdict, can litigation on their asset forfeiture begin.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture differs from a criminal forfeiture because it can proceed independently of any criminal case. Furthermore, a person does not even have to be arrested for the government to seize property. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, the seizure of civil assets that are allegedly tied to illicit activity does not have to be proven without a reasonable doubt to be considered evidence of wrongdoing. The burden of proof in a civil case is significantly less than in a criminal forfeiture, so assets seized are much more likely to become government property.

Therefore, the civil asset forfeiture process does not begin in the courts. It starts with whatever agency seized your assets, such as the FBI or DEA. After the agency is identified, the following should occur:

  • The government agency will send a “Notice of Seizure” to you within 60 days of the assets’ seizure, detailing the procedures for making a claim.
  • Your attorney will send a notice of claim or petition for remission to start the legal process of recovering your property. This step is time sensitive, so it is pivotal that an asset forfeiture attorney is contacted early on. If a notice of claim or petition for remission is not sent in a timely fashion, you risk losing your property indefinitely.
  • Your attorney will communicate with the seizing agency’s attorney to help assess whether a settlement is possible. The possibility of a settlement depends on many factors, such as if you are the target of a criminal investigation or whether the basis for seizure is tied to criminality.
  • From here, your attorney will help you decide the best course of action: abandon the claim, reach a settlement, or proceed to judicial court.

After these steps are completed, either a settlement will be negotiated with the government, or litigation for a trial will begin.

Consult with an Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Defense Attorney in Westchester

Having your property taken by the government can result in a long and confusing process of asset recovery that may be futile if the proper claims are not filed in right amount of time. This proceeding can be frustrating and disheartening, especially if your seized assets had no ties to criminal wrongdoing. At the Law Offices of Richard A. Portale, P.C., our asset forfeiture lawyers provide defense for those whose assets have been seized and work to help victims of asset forfeiture regain their property. If you have had your assets seized by the government, contact our Westchester offices at (914) 772-3166 to receive guidance and support in your case.