Asset Forfeiture Lawyer in Atlanta
Are you under investigation for drug trafficking, racketeering, or other white-collar offenses? The prosecutors can use asset forfeiture laws to confiscate your properties.
Asset forfeiture is also termed a seizure. It refers to the federal government taking control of an individual’s assets. In other words, asset forfeiture allows the authorities to legally take your alleged illegal assets.
Have your assets or property been seized by the police around Atlanta, GA? If so, seek legal prowess from Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC. Just because the government took your property doesn’t mean they can keep them. A qualified civil asset forfeiture attorney will help you fight back against government seizures.
Asset Forfeiture Law in Georgia
Georgia Code, § 9-16-12, allows forfeiture of possessions in particular circumstances. In Georgia, however, property seized must meet a specified adoption threshold to prevent illegal property seizures.
Legal information outlined in a complaint during forfeiture includes the following:
- Description of the property to be seizure
- The name of the property owner
- Name of the interest holder
- Essential elements of the claimed criminal violation
- Place of forfeiture
Asset Seizure Requirements
Georgia follows the civil asset forfeiture law to confiscate properties. According to Georgia Code § 16-14-7, state forfeiture asset seizures include the following types of assets.
- Property that is worth at least $250
- Property used or obtained through patterns of racketeering activity
- Property that is declared to be contraband
Types of Asset Forfeiture Proceedings Under Federal Law
There are three types of forfeiture that can be imposed on individuals suspected of committing a crime by the federal government. The government mounts evidence tying the assets to criminal activity. After that, the individual’s property can be subjected to the following types of forfeiture:
A criminal forfeiture proceeding occurs when you’ve been convicted of a crime. The state or federal government presents evidence that the property helped facilitate a crime. In turn, the judge requires the defendant to forfeit that property to the authorities.
For instance, according to current heroin laws and penalties, someone found guilty of transporting illegal drugs can have a vehicle linked to the crime seized.
Civil Judicial Forfeiture
Civil judicial forfeiture occurs when police seize assets based on suspicion of wrongdoing. Civil forfeiture proceeding involves no criminal charges against the property owner. Instead, the law enforcement charges are against the property.
The government needs to convince the judge by a preponderance of the evidence. Proof those assets were linked to a crime is required. This is beyond mere proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred.
Unlike civil forfeiture, administrative forfeiture does not require court involvement. Federal authorities can seize banned substances, things used to transport or store controlled substances, money, or other property valued at less than $25,000 under this type of asset seizure.
For a government agency to seize property, only probable cause must be shown that it was involved in a crime. A three-week ad in local newspapers announcing the intent to forfeit the property is then required. After the second publication, victims of the seizure have 30 days to contest the forfeiture and avoid a default judgment.
An administrative forfeiture process occurs when no claim is filed against the seizure by the agency that seized the assets. If no objections are made, the agency takes possession of the property, and may sell it at an auction.
Defense to Asset Forfeiture Claims
Has your money or property been seized, and you want to get it back? Demonstrate that the property wasn’t connected to any crime. Defense strategies presented to the judge need to be compelling, convincing, and persuasive.
Possible defenses an asset forfeiture defense attorney can use are specific to the forfeiture proceedings. One of the most common, however, is the “innocent owner” defense.
The Innocent Owner Defense
Asset forfeiture claims occur when you get the forfeited property before, during, or after the time of the criminal activity. The “innocent owner” defense is applicable if there is no crime, and the burden of proof is on the state.
There are several elements the Government must prove when it seizes your property. The following are a few examples.
- 18 USC 981 (money laundering forfeiture statute)
- 18 USC 924(d) (firearms forfeiture statute)
- 21 USC 853, 881 (drug forfeiture statutes)
- 31 USC 5317 (structuring forfeiture statute)
For each of these statutes, different types of evidence are required to protect or reclaim your property. Additionally, if the criminal charges associated with the property are dropped in a separate court case, the seized property could be returned.
A skilled attorney from Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC could assess your case and outline your options.
Asset Recovery Process
Asset forfeiture requires swift action. Once your property is seized in Georgia, you need to file an answer to the complaint within 30 days. Otherwise, a default judgment is implemented, and the property is lost forever.
In civil actions, the process of recovering seized property occurs at a bench trial led by a judge. The sole judge determines whether your property will be returned or not. The assets are immediately forfeited and sold. The profits are awarded to the state and used to fund various government needs.
How Can Asset Forfeiture Lawyer Help
Asset forfeiture can take place on suspicion of criminal gain. An asset forfeiture attorney could help in recovering confiscated assets. They will fight to protect your constitutional rights, freedom, and future.
Once your assets are confiscated, it’s upon you to prove they are in no way connected to a crime. Hire defense attorneys to provide legal counsel and defend against unconstitutional property seizure. The attorneys will suppress any evidence illegally obtained without a proper search warrant.
The seized property lawyers will represent clients in both state and federal courts. Attorneys understand the relationship between asset forfeiture litigation and the related criminal case. Atlanta asset seizure lawyers will review your case to determine a suitable trajectory.
Atlanta property forfeiture attorneys are experienced in handling challenging federal asset forfeitures. They will uncover the prosecution’s questionable tactics. Asset recovery attorneys can help you avoid the loss of your precious possessions.
Contact Farnsworth & Murphy Today!
Have your assets been seized in a criminal case? Asset forfeiture attorney at Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC. can retrieve them for you. Our team is skilled in presenting asset forfeiture matters with high professionalism.
Asset forfeiture is an exceedingly complex area of the law. We’re committed to defending and protecting our client’s rights, liberty, and property. Call our law firm immediately to schedule a free initial consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding asset forfeiture.
Does Georgia Have Civil Asset Forfeiture?
Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize properties linked to criminal activity. Examples of items seized through asset forfeiture include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
What States Have Abolished Civil Asset Forfeiture?
The execution of civil asset forfeiture law differs across states. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states like Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, and New Mexico abolished the practice entirely.
Can Seized Assets Be Returned?
Seized property can be returned if it is not used in criminal activity. To recover your property, you need to file a civil forfeiture action. You have 30 days from the time of notice to contest the forfeiture.