If law enforcement has seized your property through asset forfeiture, including federal civil forfeiture, an experienced Seattle asset forfeiture attorney may be able to build a compelling defense on your behalf with a forfeiture case.
Government agencies have the legal authority to confiscate property they deem to have been used in or associated with particular crimes. Forfeiture is designed to deter the commission of criminal offenses by demonstrating that, in the end, it does not pay to engage in criminal activity. However, the practice of asset forfeiture is often overbearing; often, the property taken that has zero connection to an alleged offense. The practice of asset forfeiture by federal and state authorities often occurs in drug cases where wide-ranging seizures connected to alleged drug dealing take place.
The Seattle forfeiture defense attorneys at Emerald City Law Group are committed to helping you fight the forfeiture of your property by government authorities. To request a free case evaluation, call us today at 206-973-0407, or complete our contact form.
The Government’s Power to Seize
Government agencies have certain powers to seize instruments used in the performance of a crime as well as unlawful contraband, guns, drugs, and other goods. State and federal governments may also take possession of your property or money if it was acquired through specific criminal actions. Asset forfeiture can occur under both civil and criminal laws. Under civil forfeiture actions, your property itself is the object of the lawsuit. Criminal forfeiture actions coincide with the sentencing phase of your trial after conviction. If you are dealing with a potential federal civil forfeiture case, give a Seattle forfeiture defense attorney from Emerald City Law Group a call today.
In asset forfeiture cases in the state of Washington, there are three categories of property subject to forfeiture under the law, including:
- Proceeds from unlawful activity – property that stems from or can be linked back to illegal activity
- Contraband – property that is illegal to own such as illegal drugs
- Tools used to commit an offense – Instruments or property utilized to carry out criminal activity
The laws of each type of forfeiture case vary. Therefore, it’s important to examine your case in more detail. A skilled Seattle forfeiture defense attorney from Emerald City Law Group can help you understand the possible consequences and legal defenses of any forfeiture action taken against you and your property.
Washington State Civil Forfeiture Laws
The state of Washington has the power to seize property associated with illegal activity through a civil action. As the owner of such property, it’s important to know under what circumstances this seizure can be performed. Civil forfeiture actions in Washington are not leveled against the owner of the property, but against the property itself. In order for the state government to gain access to the property, they must provide proof through a preponderance of the evidence that the property has a connection to your alleged criminal activity. The government can meet the preponderance of the evidence if it can demonstrate the property was most likely connected to the commission of a crime.
If the government proves through the above standard that your property is associated with a crime, you can then exercise certain recourse to recover property. With the help of an asset forfeiture attorney, you can argue that you have no involvement in the alleged criminal activity.
Federal Civil Forfeiture Cases
Like civil forfeiture cases in Washington, federal civil forfeiture actions are aimed against the property itself – not the property owner. Forfeiture proceedings may move forward without criminal charges being filed. It is the government’s responsibility to prove through a preponderance of the evidence that the property is linked with criminal activity in some manner. Once the government meets these criteria, the property owner has the obligation to prove a total unawareness of the suspected criminal activity and the property involved.
Federal Criminal Forfeiture Cases
In order to understand federal criminal forfeiture, it is important to take note of two distinct burdens of proof in these cases. The first one is beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal charges must be filed in these cases in order for the government to take action to seize your property. You must also be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is vital to have the strong advocacy of a skilled Seattle forfeiture defense lawyer if you are facing federal criminal charges as well as forfeiture.
Once found guilty, the standard by which your property may be seized is based on a lower burden of proof: a preponderance of the evidence. If you fail to demonstrate otherwise, the government may take possession of your property.
Possible Defenses in Washington State and Federal Forfeiture Cases
Certain protections are available to individuals facing asset forfeiture. These cases must include notification deadlines issued to the property owners. The government may not seize your property if these notifications are not provided. Certain defenses may refute the government’s claim that they have met the burdens of proof mentioned necessary for forfeiture. As well, your attorney may argue that the government’s action of forfeiture is too severe based on the illegal behavior in question.
Contact a Skilled Seattle Forfeiture Defense Attorney for Help Today
At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle forfeiture defense attorneys have your back when it comes to your defense after your property has been seized by the government. If you believe your property was taken by, we can help. Let’s discuss your case. Call our Seattle criminal defense law firm at 206-973-0407, or reach us through our contact form to request a free, initial consultation.
A Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
No matter the charges or accusations – You deserve an aggressive defense.
When people are ill-prepared for the criminal justice system or take their situation too lightly, the consequences are often dire and in most cases, permanent. By working with a King County criminal defense lawyer from Emerald City Law Group, you can rely on a personalized and proactive approach to your case, so every issue is addressed and you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a crime in or around King County, Washington, Emerald City Law Group should be your next call. 206-973-0407