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Everything You Need To Know About the Different Types of Asset Forfeiture

Learn more about the types of asset forfeiture from the Waltman Firm. When you have legal questions, you want answers from a skilled attorney. Call us today!

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What Is Asset Forfeiture?

Under federal law, during civil and criminal proceedings, the authorities may confiscate or seize property, money, cars, or any other asset that may have been used as an instrument to commit a crime. This is commonly called “asset forfeiture.” The primary purpose of asset forfeiture is to eliminate the tools of crime, recover assets for victims of crime, disincentivize crimes by depriving them of gains, and punish offenders.

Understanding Georgia search and seizure laws is crucial to prevent violations of private security and unlawful invasion by law officers.

What Are the Types of Asset Forfeiture?

The United States Department of Justice has classified three types of asset forfeiture.

Criminal Forfeiture

Criminal asset forfeiture is a legal process where the prosecution can seize assets, properties, or profits gained from criminal activity during a criminal conviction. The confiscation is based on the assets, properties, and revenue earned through the defendant’s illegal actions that they were convicted of and may occur during sentencing.

The authorities show the link connecting the crime of conviction to the assets, illegal earnings, or seized property by the prevalence of the proof. The prosecution may not pursue criminal forfeiture if the court does not convict the defendant.

Civil Judicial Forfeiture

A civil judicial forfeiture is a court measure on a property acquired from a crime or used to execute an offense instead of the individual who committed the crime. Contrary to criminal forfeiture, the government does not require a criminal conviction. However, they still have to justify in federal court that such property was connected to criminal acts.

Civil forfeiture permits the authorities to file a suit against properties that are not accessible through criminal forfeiture. In addition, civil forfeiture allows the authorities to recover property belonging to deceased defendants or in cases where a defendant cannot be identified.

The Civil Forfeiture Act allows local law enforcement agencies to seize, keep, or sell any property that is supposedly involved in a crime or illegal activity. The requisition of civil sanctions against organized and economic crimes is boldly and contentiously applied in the United States.

In 2000, the US Congress GOV enacted the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) to allow a more uniform and just procedure for Federal civil forfeitures. CAFRA reconstituted various federal civil forfeiture statutes and added better protective measures for those subject to civil forfeitures.


Administrative Forfeiture

With administrative forfeiture, the federal seizing agency can forfeit the property without involving the courts. Forfeitures can be made administratively for many different types of property, including merchandise that cannot be imported, conveyances used to import, transport, or store controlled substances, and monetary instruments. If no one has filed a claim contesting the seizure, they will be forfeited by the agency that seized the assets. 

Many procedures have been established to protect property owners’ interests and rights, including strict time limits and notice requirements. Property subject to administrative forfeiture must be seized on the basis of probable cause. 

The government will establish any property seizure concerning administrative forfeiture on credible evidence. The main gain of administrative forfeiture is to mitigate federal courts from legal proceedings in situations where no one challenges the forfeiture of seized assets. 

Under the Administrative Forfeiture Act, the government can take away property that was used in illegal activities or property that was gained from illegal activities, such as money or items used to transport drugs, if the property’s value is less than $500,000.

What Are the Some Defense Strategies for Asset Forfeiture in Georgia?

If you are facing an asset forfeiture case in Georgia, your defense attorney can challenge the case under several defense arguments, which include:

Procedural Defense

If the government fails to file and serve you the notice of forfeiture at the right time, your attorney can argue that the assets and property seized do not correspond to the crime you are accused of.


Illegal Search & Seizure Defense

If the police officers seized property unlawfully and there is evidence that the officer did not meet the elements required by law to search a person, their house, or their car and seize those items. Your Georgia search and seizure lawyer can claim that law enforcement infringed your constitutional rights. In addition, you can prove that law enforcement illegally seized your assets, violating your 4th amendment rights.


Innocent Owner

If you are a third party to a forfeiture case, your defense attorney may prove that you were not aware of the illegal use of your property. You should be able to prove that you acquired the property before the crime occurred or that you were unaware of that crime.


Statutory Defense

In statutory defense, your attorney will claim that the property is exempt from state and federal asset forfeiture under federal law.

Seek Help From Illegal Seizure and Forfeiture Attorney

If you believe your property has been illegally seized or subject to forfeiture by the government, it is essential to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. This type of attorney can represent individuals whose property has been seized by law enforcement and government agencies due to alleged criminal activity. They are knowledgeable in the complex laws and procedures surrounding seizure and forfeiture, and they deeply understand the rights and protections afforded to individuals in these cases.

Contact a reliable law firm if you are a victim of illegal search and forfeiture in Georgia. At The Waltman Firm, a reputable pre-arrest criminal investigation lawyer is ready to represent you. Our defense attorneys identify and implement our client’s best defense.

Contact us today for assistance regarding your property seizure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Seizure and Forfeiture?

A seizure is when you lose the legal right to use some of your assets or money during court proceedings. In contrast, forfeiture is when you lose all your rights to use seized assets permanently through a court verdict.

What Is the Main Difference Between the Two Types of Forfeiture Laws?

In criminal forfeiture, the authorities can only take assets after getting a conviction on the defendant’s sentence. In contrast, the government does not require any criminal charge or conviction in civil forfeiture. They need to show the prevalence of evidence that the property was used as an instrument of crime.

What Types of Property May Be Subject to Forfeiture?

According to law enforcement, any property suspected to relate to any criminal activities can be subject to asset forfeiture. Forfeiture proceedings commonly target physical assets, including real estate, cars, arts, boats, weapons, cash, drugs, jewelry, houses, and computers. Other non-physical properties subject to forfeiture are royalties, bank accounts, and proceeds from crimes.