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What Is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Arlington Asset Seizure Attorneys

Fort Worth Civil Asset Forfeiture Lawyers Recovering Assets in Texas

You may know that police departments and other law enforcement agencies have the power to seize and confiscate assets acquired or generated through criminal activity. What many do not realize, however, is that government entities may be allowed to keep your property even if the associated criminal charges against you are dismissed—or never even filed in the first place! At Spencer & Associates, we understand why the law allows the government to seize property used to commit or facilitate the commission of a crime, but, sometimes, things go too far. When they do, you need our skilled attorneys on your side to protect your assets and have them returned to you as soon as possible.

Understanding Civil Asset Forfeiture

Both Texas and federal law give the government the authority to seize private property if there is reasonable suspicion that the property is being used to facilitate a crime or for other criminal purposes. Asset seizures are common in cases involving drug trafficking and conspiracy, as well as embezzlement, money laundering, and other white-collar crimes. There have been several high-profile cases, however, in which assets have been seized by police in connection with DUI charges or certain moving violations. Property that has been seized may be kept by the government or sold at auction for a profit unless you act.

What you may not realize, however, is that the vagueness of the asset forfeiture law in Texas gives the police the power to seize almost any type of property, even there is only the thinnest suspected connection to criminal activity. There is not even a requirement that you be charged with a crime before the police seize your property.

According to the law in Texas, law enforcement may seize any property that is suspected to be contraband—which is defined as personal, real, tangible, or intangible property that was used to facilitate or commit a crime. Property that is often seized as alleged contraband includes cash, computers, vehicles, mobile phones, real estate, buildings, and more. In short, the police can seize nearly anything as alleged contraband, making it your responsibility to challenge the seizure in order to get your property back.

Know Your Options

Once the state has seized your property, a civil forfeiture action must be filed by the state within 30 days of the seizure. You will receive notice of the filing, and then you must file a response and a challenge to the forfeiture within the allotted time to ensure your rights to your property are protected. Attorney Arnold Spencer is an experienced asset recovery lawyer who possesses a vast working knowledge of the laws related to seized assets and their potential forfeiture. He can help you file your response and prepare for trial.

At trial, the state must prove that the property in question was used in the commission of a crime or to facilitate criminal activity. It is up to you and your attorney to build a case that shows that your property is not and was not contraband and that you deserve to have it returned to you.

As the name implies, civil asset forfeiture is a civil matter that may be related to a criminal case but is handled separately. This creates several important distinctions. First, not every criminal defense attorney has the skills and legal experience to effectively handle asset forfeiture proceedings. Our team does have the skills and experience you need.

The other distinction is that civil matters utilize a lower burden of proof than the standard used in criminal court. Texas law requires the government to show by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not, that the property in question is subject to being forfeited. The government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal court. Therefore, even if you are acquitted of any wrongdoing in criminal court—or charges are never even filed against you—you could still lose your property in civil asset forfeiture proceedings without the proper help.

Call 469-283-6126 for an Appointment

If your property has been seized in connection with a crime—even one allegedly committed by someone else—you need an experienced attorney. Contact the offices of Spencer & Associates to get the help you need today. Call 469-283-6126 for a confidential consultation. Our firm represents clients in Dallas, Euless, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Irving, Tarrant County, Dallas County, and throughout North Texas.

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