Tallahassee Asset Forfeiture & Seizure Attorney
Civil asset forfeiture has become a popular way for local law enforcement agencies to finance their operations. Both federal and Florida state law permits police agencies to “seize” assets that are the suspected proceeds of criminal activity. Following a legal process, these seized assets can then be “forfeited” to the government. Since the process is considered civil in nature, it is not necessary to convict the original owner of the property of any criminal offense beforehand.
Unfortunately, asset seizure and forfeiture is often used to take the property of law-abiding Florida residents. Many of these people do not even understand the process for trying to get their property back. This is where we can help. At Luke Newman, P.A., our Tallahassee asset forfeiture attorneys can help you file the appropriate claims to undo an illegal seizure before your property ends up in the hands of the local police.
How Can You Get Your Property Back?
In recent years, Florida legislators have made changes to the asset forfeiture system to afford some additional protections to property owners. For example, seizure is now only permitted if the owner has actually been arrested and charged with a crime. Prior to this change, property could be seized even in the absence of a formal criminal action.
Keep in mind, there is a wide variety of property that can potentially be seized, even under the amended laws. Police can take cars, cash, and even real estate if they believe it has some tie to criminal activity. Once property is seized, the law enforcement agency must then file a complaint in Florida circuit court seeking a judgment of forfeiture.
As the original owner, you have the right to contest this complaint. The court must conduct a preliminary review of the initial seizure within 10 days to determine if “probable cause” existed for law enforcement to act as it did. If no probable cause exists, the police must return the property within 5 days. But if law enforcement makes its probable cause showing, then the court moves to hold a final hearing, at which time the police must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the property seized was used in violation of Florida law.
Contact Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney Luke Newman Today
The federal government has its own separate rules governing asset seizure and forfeiture. The process for challenging such seizures is considered more difficult and complex than even Florida’s procedures.
This is why it is so crucial to work with an experienced Tallahassee asset forfeiture and seizure lawyer. For many law enforcement agencies, the prospect of claiming and selling off a suspect’s property is more important than actually securing a criminal conviction. Asset forfeiture is, to put it bluntly, big business. And often times, the only thing standing in the way of an illegal forfeiture is a skilled attorney who can fight on behalf of an overwhelmed property owner.
So if you need representation in connection with federal or state civil asset forfeiture, contact the offices of Luke Newman, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.