Memphis Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Criminal activity can result in the defendant – the person charged with committing the activity – facing significant periods of imprisonment and/or being forced to pay hefty fines. There are others impacted by criminal activity, however. Specifically, the victim of the crime may suffer financial losses and/or emotional and mental trauma, in addition to a number of other conditions. Moreover, the community itself may be shaken and its sense of security destroyed.
In light of the above, when a piece of property – a car or cash, for instance – is involved in a crime, the owner of such property may also be affected by the criminal activity. This is because the government can seize this property and use it or the proceeds from its sale for law enforcement purposes. Aggressive and knowledgeable legal counsel is necessary in order for the property owner to protect his or her property.
The Theory Behind Asset Forfeiture
When the concept of asset forfeiture or asset seizure was developed, the legislative goal was to take away some of the resources of individuals who were serial criminals as a means of reducing the likelihood of future criminal activity. Specifically, by seizing cash, cars, boats, and homes (for example) that were used in the commission of certain crimes, it was hoped that the criminals associated therewith would be unable to continue engaging in the criminal behavior. It was also hoped that some of the allure of entering into a criminal lifestyle would be dissolved if individuals knew that the proceeds of their criminal behavior could be seized.
Asset Forfeiture Today
Asset forfeiture today does not resemble the idea as it was first imagined. Today, innocent property owners face the loss of their homes, their cars, and other valuable property and cash simply because it was used in connection with a crime like drug possession. When the government moves to forfeit a particular asset, it can do so even if there have been no criminal charges filed against a person or if the person accused of committing the crime has been found not guilty.
What is more, the burden of proof required to have an asset forfeited is different than the burden of proof at a trial. Whereas a criminal defendant is guilty unless proven innocent, the owner of forfeited property may need to present evidence to show the presiding judge that his or her assets should not be forfeited. This can be a difficult showing to make.
What Can I Do To Keep My Property From Being Forfeited?
A professional and persuasive presentation of the facts of your situation is the best chance property owners have to avoid having their property forfeited. The judge can consider a wide variety of details and facts in determining whether forfeiture is appropriate, including:
- The type of property that was seized (car, house, cash, etc.);
- The type of crime alleged to be involved;
- Whether the owner of the property has clear ownership (as evidenced by a contract or deed, for example);
- Any foreknowledge the owner may have had that his or her property might be used in criminal activity;
- What steps, if any, the owner took to protect his or her property from being used in the criminal activity; and/or
- The harm seizing the asset would cause to the owner as weighed against the desire of the state to seize the property.
Contact A Seasoned Memphis Asset Forfeiture Attorney For Assistance
The seasoned team of Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Douglass & Runger, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, is available to assist you if you have received notice that an item of property belonging to you is being threated with forfeiture. Take immediate action and speak with us today by calling (901) 388-5805. You only have a limited time to protect your property, so do not delay in reaching out to us.