When a person commits a financial crime, he or she usually engage in white-collar crime and these can lead to the forfeiture of assets or frozen assets that are untouchable until the criminal proceedings end. Knowing what rights are available during these times is important in understanding how to legally proceed with a lawyer.
What Is Asset Forfeiture?
Law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations often uses asset forfeiture as a means to cripple a person that is under suspicion of committing illegal activity such as different white-collar crimes. By using this type of tool, it is possible to remove access to most or all assets the criminal element has available such as bank accounts and investments. This removes the ability to use ill-gotten funding through nefarious means and place a complete block and ban on the money. Often, it is possible to also prevent future crime or flush out the criminals through this method.
Use of Asset Forfeiture in the Past
Hundreds of years of asset forfeiture provide the current law enforcement administration the understanding of how to use this tool against criminals. When the gold or jewels were found by law enforcement agents in the 1600s, the cops of the age would seize these assets and remove the means for the criminals and pirate from purchasing additional weapons or manpower to pillage the areas. Through understanding how this worked then, the FBI and other agencies can put pressure on criminals in the electronic age through seizing assets under investigation. This can also help to discover who has some involvement in illegal activity.
The Use of Asset Forfeiture by the FBI
The FBI often uses the method of asset forfeiture to punish criminals under investigation, but it can have used in deterring the illegal activity these individuals or groups are participating in and when causing harm to the surrounding neighborhoods. This tactic generally will disrupt the organizations that criminals run. By removing the assets from those committing illegal activities, the FBI and other agencies can remove what tools the criminals are able to use. This action of assets forfeiture may also help to return the stolen assets to the victims. Through these methods, law enforcement can also protect the communities under attack by illegal actions.
Types of Forfeiture Used
Law enforcement may use criminal, civil judicial or administrative forfeitures. A criminal method is a form of criminal prosecution against the defending party when under a trial case. The government must indict the property and criminal. The defending party can use defenses to contest the seizure in the trial proceedings. The civil judicial method does not require the use of a criminal conviction and is a standard tool for law enforcement agencies to seize the property involved in criminal activity. This is a method through an action filed against the assets instead of the person. The defending party can also contest this seizure through trial proceedings.
The Administrative Forfeiture
In many cases where forfeiture occurs with a federal agency, the matter goes by uncontested by the defendant even in an ongoing criminal investigation. The administrative forfeiture is a property seizure that progresses after the filing and the claim does not have any contest by the owner of the assets. The property can include prohibited imported items, cars, transports of all types, stores, money and other property that can exceed $500,000. There are strict deadlines in place to contest the matter before the courts. If the owner does contest this process, the courts are necessary for a criminal or judicial case.
The Rights of the Individual in Asset Forfeiture
Generally, law enforcement agencies will apply asset forfeiture when there is an ongoing investigation that includes criminal activity such as organized crime or a large-scale operation that could incur multiple illegal activities. Those affected by the asset forfeiture lose access to accounts, property and other assets because the agency believes the individual is part of the illegal event. The person has the right to petition the courts to remove the method from currently affecting assets, but this may require the services of a lawyer.
Legal Support for an Asset Forfeiture
The owner of the assets will need a legal representative to understand the process and how to contest the matter. With the strict deadlines in place, the owner of the property usually only has so much time to contest the process and release the forfeiture on the affected assets.