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Important notes on civil asset forfeiture

Being subject to civil asset forfeiture can be a very stressful position to be in. Civil asset forfeiture means that a member of a law enforcement team has the legal right to cease and confiscate property that he or she has a reason to believe has been a part of some legal activity. This could be your car or another valuable possession that you own.

What can be even more frustrating for the person involved is that you do not even need to be convicted or found guilty of a crime yourself: Your property is what is being brought into question.

Will I ever get my property back?

Many people believe that if they are able to prove they are innocent, then they will be able to get their property back. But this is not how civil asset forfeiture usually works unfortunately. The property seized is presumed to be part of a criminal activity. It is likely that there was a good reason why the property was seized in the first place. Therefore, although it is possible, it is very uncommon for property to be successfully retrieved by the owner.

Why does this happen?

To an innocent person that has unjustifiably had their property seized from them, civil asset forfeiture probably seems like a very unfair procedure. However, there are good reasons as to why the law functions in this way. It is a vital method that is used to tackle organized crime, and get to the root of drug organizations.

Civil asset forfeiture is a complex process; however, it is possible to retrieve assets in some circumstances. An attorney can provide more information on this and other topics dealing with asset forfeiture.

Source: Heritage, "Civil asset forfeiture 7 things you should know," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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