Asset Forfeiture & Property Seizure
If the government can show that proceeds or profits from a crime were used to buy a house, car, business, or secure any type of financial assets, then they can seize these assets. Here’s the real kicker - even after you have been found not guilty or the charges against you have been dropped or dismissed, the government may not return any of these assets to you without you taking proper legal action to get them back.
Our Villages Asset Forfeiture & Property Seizure Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent clients in asset forfeiture proceedings in both state and federal courts. We know the law pertaining to asset and property seizures and we have experience handling cases like money laundering, drug crimes, and other criminal charges that usually involve asset forfeiture. Please call us today at 352-369-5334 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights and how we may be able to help you. Upon meeting with us you can expect to discuss your situation and from there we can help you figure out the next steps to recover your property and your assets.Federal and State Laws
Federal and Florida state forfeiture laws permit the government to seize personal assets and property if it is believed they can be linked to criminal activity. The state or federal government can take privately owned property such as homes, cars, boats, jewelry and cash without compensating the owners. Additionally, your property can be indefinitely confiscated. In order to try and retrieve your belongings you will have to file a claim, and you will need to act fast to make sure your rights are fully protected.
Generally under Florida law, you have 15 days to respond to a state notice of forfeiture of property and only 10 days in federal forfeiture cases to file a request for an adverse preliminary hearing. An adverse preliminary hearing allows you to fight for the return of your property. If you fail to respond to federal or state action within the strict time limits allowed, you could lose your chance to fight for the property the government is threatening to take away.
The state of Florida allows the criminal forfeiture of assets to deter certain drug crimes such as possession with intent to distribute, sales, trafficking, production and manufacturing. White Collar Crimes including Theft, Fraud, Money Laundering, Grand Theft, RICO and Conspiracy are also subject to asset seizure by police.Certain legal defenses can force the return of your property, including the following:
- The actual owner of the property is an “innocent owner,” meaning the real property owner was unaware the property was illegally obtained or had no idea illegal activity was taking place on their property.
- The forfeiture is excessive in relation to the alleged criminal activity.
- The law enforcement officer or agency lacked probable cause to seize the property in question.
The Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can provide the aggressive representation you need in any type of forfeiture proceeding. We can pursue all possible avenues to make sure you receive the best possible outcome for your unique situation. We can assist you and your family in The Villages and everywhere in between Lake, Sumter and Marion counties by immediately challenging property or asset seizures, filing the necessary documents to combat government forfeiture, hiring forensic accountants and other appropriate experts to present clear and convincing evidence as well as interviewing witnesses that can support your case.Let Us Help You Make the Right Strategic Decision
Asset forfeiture and property seizure actions can occur simultaneously with or even before a criminal trial takes place. We must remind you that everything you say during a forfeiture/seizure hearing is under oath, so everything you say can be used against you during the criminal trial. In certain cases, we may advise letting the property or assets go for now as opposed to risking the possibility of self incrimination. We will research any issues as they pertain to your unique situation and develop the best strategy for your situation.
Contact The Villages Asset Forfeiture Attorneys & Property Seizure Lawyers online or call us at 352-369-5334 for a free consultation. We can provide you with the privacy and confidentiality needed to discuss your distinct forfeiture situation.