Coral Gables Federal Money & Property Forfeitures Attorney
If you are convicted of a federal crime, you may be facing fines, time in prison, and other similar penalties. In addition, however, the federal government may have the right to seize money or property from you without providing any compensation to you. This seizure is permitted in some cases by federal law and is meant to provide extra punishment for criminal offenders, deter future criminal offenses, and to provide revenue for the government.
Not every attempted forfeiture is warranted under the law, however, and if prosecutors are trying to take your money or property, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney handling your case who understands how to challenge unlawful forfeitures.
When can a forfeiture legally occur?
Though federal laws initially only allowed forfeiture in the case of treason convictions, the laws have since been significantly expanded and federal officials have seized valuable property associated with many additional types of criminal offenses. In order to lawfully take your property or money, a prosecutor is required to prove the following:
- You have been convicted of a qualified crime under federal law, which include child pornography, organized crime, drug trafficking, copyright infringement, money laundering, and more; and
- You used the property in the commission of the criminal offense, you directly obtained the money or property from criminal activity, or you paid for the property with funds obtained from criminal activity.
For example, imagine that you have been convicted of a money laundering scheme in federal criminal court. The prosecutor claims that you purchased your home with proceeds from your scheme and, therefore, wishes to seize your home. However, if you did not actually purchase your residence with any illegally obtained funds, you deserve to retain ownership of that home. An experienced attorney can present evidence that the house was lawfully purchased and should thus not be forfeited.
The prosecutor is also required to properly publish notice that it intends to seize your property so that any banks or other interested parties have the opportunity to come forward. If a mortgage lender can successfully object to the forfeiture at the required court hearing, the forfeiture will likely not continue. There are also other defenses an attorney can present on your behalf, such as the property or money had no involvement with the crime or that a co-owner had no involvement in the crime and was unaware that the property was involved.
Contact an experienced federal forfeiture defense lawyer for help with your case
Anyone facing any type of federal criminal charges should seek the assistance of a skilled defense attorney with experience specifically with federal offenses. You should especially consult with a lawyer if the government is trying to seize your valued property or assets while you serve out a prison sentence. Though the law permits forfeiture in some cases, the government does not have the right to take the property of every criminal offender. Please do not hesitate in calling the law office of Alfredo A. Izaguirre in Miami or Coral Gables at 305-442-0425 to discuss your case today.