When facing criminal charges, one of the hardest things to cope with is the loss of your rights and freedoms. Few people are aware of asset forfeiture laws that allow law enforcement to seize your car, money, or other items they suspect are associated with a crime. This is particularly common in cases where drug crimes are alleged, but it can occur in other types of criminal matters as well.
Asset Forfeiture in Criminal Cases
In criminal matters, asset forfeiture laws allow police and prosecutors to take any type of property you own if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. Under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, it is frequently used in drug crimes cases. There are three classifications of property or assets which may be seized:
- Property Used in the Commission of a Crime:This includes drug paraphernalia and cars, bikes, boats, or other vehicles that may have aided in distribution.
- The Property Associated with a Crime:This includes cash or money in bank accounts which may have been intended to fund a criminal act.
- Property Received as a Result of a Crime:This includes any profits you made, as well as items you may have purchased with the profits.
Federal, state, and local agencies can make significant amounts of money through asset forfeiture, which is typically funneled into areas such as crime prevention programs, victims funds, and purchasing additional equipment. However, there is plenty of controversy surrounding the practice.
One of the biggest complaints is that you do not need to be convicted or a crime to have property and assets seized. Another negative is that it often impacts innocent third parties. If a car is used in the commission of a crime, it can subject to asset forfeiture despite the fact that it is in another person’s name who had no knowledge of the crime or that it occurred.
Defending Yourself Against Asset Forfeiture
In addition to drug crimes, asset forfeiture may be used in relation to other criminal matters. This includes gang-related crimes or any organized activities, online thefts, robbery, and white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement. When a criminal act rises to the federal level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may also get involved, taking possession of property and assets as a way to punish perpetrators, deter criminal activities, and dismantle criminal organizations.
Asset forfeiture is a civil matter, meaning that it is separate from criminal proceedings. This is why the government can retain possession of your property, regardless of whether you are convicted or even formally charged with a crime. When facing these types of actions, you need an attorney who is experienced in both civil and criminal law.
Contact Our San Jose Attorneys Today for Help
With decades worth of combined experience in handling both civil and criminal matters, Jachimowicz Law Group has the knowledge and skill needed to protect you in cases involving assets forfeiture. Call 408-246-5500 or contact our skilled San Jose criminal defense attorneys online today to request a consultation.