Getting Your Assets Back After a Civil Seizure
When your assets are taken through civil seizure, also known as civil asset forfeiture, you have the right to try to get them back. Whether you get them back or not will depend on a variety of factors, and working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer will increase your chance of getting them back.
In order to recover your seized assets, you must follow certain procedures. The first is responding properly to the police notice that they believe they can keep the property due to its alleged connection to criminal activity. You will receive this notice within two weeks of the property’s seizure.
Responding to a Notice
Within 14 days of seizing property believed to have been involved in a criminal act, the court conducts a preliminary review of the items to determine whether there is probable cause the items are connected to a current investigation. Within 45 days of the seizure, the law enforcement agency must notify the property’s owner of whether it is keeping the items.
When you receive this initial notification, you may respond to tell the agency that you did not know about the crime that allegedly occurred and that you had nothing to do with it. You have 45 days to respond to the notice. Your attorney will determine whether you need to file a claim with the court to recover your assets or if the court will begin the process on its own, depending on the nature of the alleged offense and the value of the assets seized.
Proving That Your Possessions Were Not Used in a Crime
Your lawyer can help develop a legal defense strategy that shows the court that you did not commit a crime and that you were not involved in an alleged criminal activity in any way. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your strategy might involve demonstrating that you did not benefit from an alleged criminal act or that you are not holding property for an individual who committed a crime.
You might instead have to prove that you legally purchased the items or that you had no idea they could have been used to commit an offense if you purchased the items after they were taken by law enforcement.
Your Options When Your Property is Seized
You can respond to the court’s notice and try to get your property back; however, understand that you will have to post a bond for your items while your claim is pending. By posting this bond, you therefore agree to pay any expenses related to the forfeiture if your claim is denied.
If the charges related to the alleged crime are dropped, then your property is not automatically returned to you. However, the state’s attorney may request that it be returned.
You can also settle your case — you agree to pay the court a specific amount of money to get your assets back. This can be a lengthy process, but it can be your best option.
Work with an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Lawyer
When your assets are taken through civil asset forfeiture, you have the right to try to get them back from the police. To learn more about your rights in this situation and how you can get your assets back, contact our team of experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to set up your initial legal consultation in our office.