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As we stated before, the IRS is the most brutal collection agency that has the power to take any property you have, whether it’s your cars, furniture, jewelry, and/or houses. Federal forfeiture laws allow the government to take personal property and assets away from you to pay back taxes or if suspected criminal activity is occurring. Moreover, the government can hold onto your property for as long as they deem necessary. Working with an attorney can sometimes be the only way to reclaim your property and ensure you are represented fairly.
Once you receive a notice of property seizure, you will have 30 days to respond (it also depends on the state of your residence.) If you want to get your property back, you must indicate your wishes for the return of your property in your response, and whether you have been accused rightly or wrongly, you have a right to fight back. You are required to follow the proper process and procedure, but the process is very complex, and aside from tax evasion, forgery, drug crimes, and money laundering, there are over 100 federal codes that deal with forfeiture.
Some of the actions your attorney might take to challenge the forfeiture:
Challenge any asset or property seizure as soon as possible.
File the correct court documents that challenge the government’s case.
Find witnesses who can support your case.
Bring in experts who can prove that the funds used to buy the seized property were from a legitimate source.
The IRS can be very aggressive, and you will need someone to navigate the situation and provide sound advice.
Asset forfeiture is the process by which government agencies seize property suspected to have been obtained through illegal means or used in criminal acts. Law enforcement agencies frequently utilize asset forfeiture laws in California to confiscate money and other types of property that are suspected to have been acquired unlawfully.
Asset forfeiture laws allow the government to seize property acquired through criminal activity or used in its commission.
Have you heard stories where overzealous government agents have unlawfully confiscated assets belonging to innocent owners in cases involving family drug crimes or other illegal activities?
For the government to forfeit property, it must initiate a legal suit against it. To acquire the property, they must:
The government has broad powers to seize bank and brokerage accounts, as well as:
Every year, the federal government seizes half a billion dollars worth of assets related to drug crimes. California receives an annual forfeiture payment of around $100 million.
Agents often unfairly abuse their powers. The overreach of forfeiture agents has been a real and significant issue that has persisted for a long time.
While the government may appear to have unlimited power to confiscate and forfeit assets, it is important to remember that those affected by asset forfeiture also have rights. Do not succumb to intimidation or abuse by the government.
Asset forfeiture laws vary by a federal government agency as well as between states and local jurisdictions, so even non-criminals could potentially have their assets confiscated by authorities.
However, depending on the law in force, government agents may have the ability to seize any property linked with a crime – not only property owned by criminals.
The intricacies of forfeiture laws depend on many variables, including the nature and scope of the crime committed, specific properties involved, and whether or not the case falls under federal, state, or local jurisdiction.
Generally, forfeiture theories include
Agents may attempt to seize vehicles that were used by a criminal for illegal drug distribution.
The police may try to seize the home or property of a criminal who engaged in secret drug manufacturing, even if the owner is unaware of the illicit activities.
Federal and state agents often share the proceeds from seizures, as both federal and state laws permit forfeiture.
Remember that forfeiture is not limited to drugs; it can also be applied to other crimes and illegal schemes.
Asset forfeiture in California usually follows three steps. Agents take possession of the property.
After the government assumes control of the property, the owner will lose the right to use, sell, or otherwise benefit from it.
California’s rules regarding seizure, disposition, and forfeiture stipulate that the government must establish its right to forfeiture during a hearing.
According to the California Health and Safety Code (11469 HS) seizure and disposal rules, the government must prove its right of forfeiture at a hearing.
California Health and Safety Code 11475 permits the government to take action without a hearing in certain cases, particularly those involving specific illicit drugs.
According to California Health & Safety Code 11488.5(a).1, the owner has the right to request a hearing.
Following the hearing, the government will distribute the assets following the established procedure or court order.
California’s Legislature, through Senate Bill 443, has recently raised the threshold for government agents responsible for carrying out legal asset forfeiture.
Under the new restrictions, agents can now seize assets in cases involving state forfeiture.
California’s new restrictions impose limitations on the ability of state agents to transfer forfeitures to federal authorities. While federal law permits seizures based on probable cause without requiring a conviction, it still allows for seizures in specific circumstances.
The new restrictions raise the burden of proof for certain seizures. During the forfeiture hearing, the government is now more obligated to demonstrate the lawfulness of the forfeiture.
These steps and procedures will demonstrate how experienced lawyers can impede and overcome seizures.
As mentioned earlier, we exclusively handle criminal cases and refer civil forfeiture matters to other professionals.
It is crucial to ensure that agents only seize the property for which they have a valid reason, avoiding nearby or misidentified property.
It is also important to ensure that the government complies with the court’s orders in distributing the property, including returning it to the rightful owner and clearing its legal title.
California’s forfeiture laws and procedures are intricate. The government can be an intimidating adversary, and some agents may not adhere to these new restrictions.
At Tenina Law we have over 20 years of experience and dedication to serving our clients. Our extensive expertise in these practice areas guarantees the best outcome for all of our clients!
Each of our clients are treated like family and just another case. Our personal approach leads to better results for the client.