Asset forfeiture. It is often a term used to describe a travesty of due process.
Too many communities use asset forfeiture as a methodology to line the pocketbooks of police departments and prosecutorial officers. In too many communities, asset forfeiture has become a standard policy tool in meeting budget shortfalls.
When asset forfeiture is used, all too often no criminal charges are ever filed against the person from whom the property is taken. The cash or other asset is taken by the government without any due process, criminal investigation, or prosecution.
If this has happened to you, you will need the help of an asset forfeiture attorney in Tahlequah to recover the assets the government has wrongfully taken.
How Asset Forfeiture Works
Imagine this scenario. A person who has just sold a vehicle or other property for cash is traveling along a highway. Unbeknownst to them, their vehicle has a taillight out.
That person is stopped by a Highway Patrol officer and questioned not only about the taillight, but also about where the person is coming from; going to; how much cash they have on hand; whether they have drugs in the car; and whether they have just sold drugs.
All too often, an asset forfeiture victim will feel the need to answer questions asked by a police officer or highway patrolman. Before they know it, their cash, vehicle, and credit cards are taken from them.
Once a government official takes assets under an asset forfeiture, the person from whom the asset was taken is now deemed a “claimant.” They must prove there was no reason to take the asset under law. This places the burden of proof on the claimant to not only prove their innocence, but also prove the asset was wrongfully taken.
In some ways, this is like proving a negative. It is difficult to do. Police departments know this. They also know that asset forfeiture, while wrong, can be legal.
They also know that all too often, people are afraid to lay claim to these assets wrongfully taken in fear of retribution by a police officer via the filing of criminal charges brought after the fact. Police officers and prosecutorial officers often reap the rewards of people’s fear.
How An Asset Forfeiture Attorney Can Help
Even though these assets were taken in conjunction with a purported criminal matter, a claimant looking to recover those assets must file for that recovery in civil court. In doing so, a claimant goes up against the government and all of their might. This requires a lawsuit filed against the government agency in the County in which the assets were taken.
This is difficult for most people to handle on their own. If seeking to go up against the government, it is always better to have an experienced Tahlequah asset forfeiture attorney by your side.
It can take as long as a year after the assets are taken before the matter is considered ripe for litigation. If no one steps up to claim the money or other assets taken, the prosecutor’s office can appropriate the cash and share it with other governmental officials.
Often, no one is ever charged with a crime and no criminal prosecution is pursued. However, the opportunity for law enforcement extortion can arise. An authority figure may offer an out-of-court cash settlement in which seized funds are forfeited under the threat of criminal prosecution. This is wrong, but has been done time and again.
Know Your Rights: Exercise Your Rights
A claimant is not without legal rights. There is no doubt that Congress, the legislature, and courts have favored asset forfeiture. However, it is under more intense scrutiny of late. In some cases, the Supreme Court has decided that asset forfeiture can be viewed as a due process violation or an excessive fine.
In addition, procedures must be followed when public officials seize assets. When these procedures are not followed, the court is more inclined to rule in favor of an asset forfeiture victim.
It is important to know that when the government seizes your assets, you are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney. Although this arose from a criminal matter, the matter is heard in civil court. Hence, you have no right to an attorney.
However, there are some laws that will allow courts to release a portion of seized funds to help a claimant pay for the legal fees associated with the recovery of those funds.
A Tahlequah attorney can help you recover the property that was wrongfully taken from you. Do not wait to get the help you need in recovering your rightful property. Call for help today.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Asset Forfeiture Attorney
For a free consultation with a Tahlequah attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.