Articles Tagged with asset forfeiture

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Gallardo-Law-Firm-and-Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-Miami-small-300x200Civil asset forfeiture is different from most legal processes, where law enforcement officials seize property they assert has been involved in criminal activity. One need not be involved or charged with a crime in order for his or her property to be seized. In other words, in civil asset forfeiture proceedings, it’s essentially the property that is charged with the crime.

Forfeiture laws have been used historically and are intended to be used as tools to fight organized crime. When targeting criminal organizations whose sheer amount resources make them incredibly difficult to prosecute, having a legal means to seize the assets of these organizations can be helpful in weakening them. In practice, however, civil asset forfeiture laws are not always used in this way.

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squad-car-1209719_640-300x162Any property can be subject to forfeiture, whether it be cars, boats, airplanes, cash, bank accounts, homes or businesses. If it can be connected to a crime, then it can be seized by the government.

You might be wondering what steps you should take to get your property back once it is seized. Here are a few pointers about asset forfeiture and how you should proceed if your property gets involved.

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club-2492011_960_720-300x167The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act can be found in Florida Statutes 932.701-932.706, and allows for the seizure and civil forfeiture of property and contraband related to violations of the law.

The forfeiture procedure is a two-step process. The first is the seizure or the initial restraint on the property, and the second is the forfeiture itself. Of course, the outcome must be determined in a court of law before property can be subject to forfeiture. It’s important to understand what falls under the category of “contraband” to understand forfeiture in Florida.

What is “contraband?”

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xCash-300x199When it comes to forfeiture, two procedures exist: civil and criminal. The most important difference between these two procedures is in the simplicity of the rules outlined for each forfeiture action.

Civil forfeitures are often easier for the state and federal government because no criminal prosecution or conviction is required. One does not have to have committed a crime to have their assets seized in a civil forfeiture. Rather, the government only needs to establish sufficient probable cause for the forfeiture of the property.

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Adversarial Preliminary HearingAn Adversarial Preliminary Hearing is a court proceeding where a judge determines if probable cause exists to believe that seized property has been used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

During this hearing, the judge will review evidence presented by law enforcement as well as any potential claimants. Evidence can include documentation, financial records, photographs, videos, physical evidence, forensic evidence, and witness testimony.

It is important to remember that an Adversarial Preliminary Hearing is just that – a preliminary hearing. It is not a trial on the merits, it is not the end all/say all in your case, and it isn’t the last chance you will get to fight back. The hearing exists to see if there is a basis for law enforcement to continue to seize your property pending the outcome of the forfeiture action.