Simply put, asset forfeiture or seizure refers to a branch of the federal government physically taking control of an individual’s assets—bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, boats, planes, or other personal property, and then depriving that individual of title and ownership to that property.
Asset forfeiture actions, also known as asset seizure, occurs when the government seizes assets related to an alleged crime. Asset forfeiture actions most commonly take place when criminal offenses are cited, and the removal of those assets is intended to disrupt criminal activity and remove any profit or benefit of the involved individuals or groups.
When someone else takes your belongings, it is theft and you call the police. When the government takes your property, it’s considered legal asset forfeiture, and you need to call Lowther Walker, LLC.
Lowther Walker, LLC may be able to help you regain possession of your forfeited assets. Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq., and Murdoch Walker, II, Esq. are experienced asset forfeiture attorneys, both with a long history of aggressively representing their clients’ best interests. If you need help navigating the asset forfeiture process and getting your property back, Lowther Walker, LLC would love the opportunity to win your trust and business.
Simply put, asset forfeiture or seizure refers to a branch of the federal government physically taking control of an individual’s assets—bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, boats, planes, or other personal property, and then depriving that individual of title and ownership to that property. This process often occurs by the Department of Justice, FBI, or DEA when investigating and prosecuting white-collar crime cases. However, asset forfeiture is not only limited to white-collar crime cases and can also take place in civil disputes.
Regardless of whether or not you are formally under investigation or a government agency has seized your property through one of many statutes legally allowing them to, if you want your property back, it is imperative that you get expert asset forfeiture attorneys on your side immediately. Asset forfeiture is a tedious and deadline-specific process, and failure to respond to crucial deadlines set by the government could result in them keeping your assets permanently. Lowther Walker, LLC will address every issue and deadline with the government on your behalf, navigating these complex rules and laws to quickly seek the return of those assets that have been taken from you.
Without legal representation, it can be very difficult to get your property or assets returned to you. This is because there are hundreds of forfeiture laws and statutes woven into various regulations, codes, and provisions. This means that the government’s legal ability to take your property differs by statute, as does the property and assets they are allowed to take. Furthermore, different statutes have different ways in which defendants are required to respond to forfeited property.
There are generally 3 main types of forfeiture proceedings:
In the administrative proceeding, according to the DOJ, “the federal seizing agency is permitted to forfeit the property without judicial involvement. The authority for a seizing agency to start an administrative forfeiture action is found in the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1607. Property that can be administratively forfeited includes merchandise of which the importation is prohibited; 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.”
The vast majority of federal asset forfeiture cases go uncontested and therefore are administrative procedures. Because they are uncontested, no courts are involved in the process. Administrative proceedings operate under very strict deadlines and filing requirements. The forfeiting agency has to begin its administrative procedure by providing notice to you or any other party who might have an interest in the property. If no one files a claim contesting the forfeiture within the given timeline, then a declaration of forfeiture is ordered. But if the claim is contested, the government has two options: civil or criminal forfeiture.
The civil proceeding does not require an arrest, and according to the DOJ, civil judicial forfeiture “is an in rem (against the property) action brought in court against the property. The property is the defendant and no criminal charge against the owner is necessary.” Rather than charging an individual, the property is essentially its own person. Civil forfeiture, unlike criminal forfeiture, is considered a remedial process rather than a punitive one. Under US law, the forfeited property belongs to the government at the time a crime was committed, and the purpose of a civil trial would be to establish ownership and title of the forfeited assets.
In criminal forfeiture proceedings, the action is brought against a person, as opposed to a property, as part of the criminal prosecution of the defendant. The government is required to charge the property seized along with charging the defendant. If the court finds the property forfeitable, the court issues an order of forfeiture. If the property that the court ordered to be seized is no longer available, the court can order the defendant to pay money or forfeit substitute assets not implicated in the crime. In criminal cases, in order for property to be forfeited, the defendant has to plead guilty to at least one of the offenses that support the forfeiture. Should the case go to trial and the defendant is found guilty, the government would have to prove in a forfeiture phase of the trial that there is a connection between the defendant’s criminal activity and the property.
Whether or not you can get your property back is entirely based on your specific situation and case. Hiring a knowledgeable asset forfeiture attorney will increase your chances of a swift resolution of your case and the restoration of your property. At Lowther Walker, LLC, our attorneys have years of experience navigating the government deadlines associated with getting your assets returned to you. Mr. Walker and Mr. Lowther will file petitions and seek judicial resolution for your forfeiture case.
Most cases will have claims filed for them, most often resulting in a civil forfeiture case. Mr. Lowther and Mr. Walker are committed to aggressively pursuing litigation, motions, dismissals, and even taking the case to trial if that is what gets your property restored to you.
If your property was taken from you in response to alleged criminal activity on your part, our asset forfeiture attorneys can draw on their strong background in the federal criminal defense system to work with law enforcement and government agencies to get your property back and get your case resolved as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Just because your property belongs to you doesn’t mean that you can successfully navigate an administrative, civil, or criminal forfeiture proceeding. Trying to get your property back by yourself might get you into more difficult situations, as most people are not aware of everything needed in order to restore property rights. Effectively defending an asset forfeiture order or case requires an expert legal team who can maneuver around the crucial and complicated deadlines associated with getting the property back.
Lowther Walker, LLC works aggressively to protect and defend your rights, and we challenge the government at every opportunity in order to have your property restored to you. With years of federal criminal defense experience, Lowther Walker, LLC will successfully advocate for your rights and needs regardless of the situation you may find yourself in.