There are two instances when the Department of Justice can seize a piece of property from the owner. The first is when the asset in question was used to facilitate a crime. One example would be an automobile that is used to transport illegal substances. The second instance is when an item is purchased with the money gained from illegal activities. There are also two types of asset confiscation cases that are recognized by the federal government.
Types of Asset Confiscation
The first type of asset forfeiture is civil forfeiture, in which:
- The federal government sues the asset and not the owner
- The owner is a third-party claimant of his own property
- A criminal conviction is not required
The second type is criminal forfeiture, in which:
- An asset is seized following a conviction
- The occurrence is much less common than a civil forfeiture (only about 20 percent of asset forfeiture cases are criminal in nature)
A New Focus for the Federal Government
Since confiscation of assets and criminal charges can be separated, the seizure of assets has always been a part of prosecution. Although the initial focus of the prosecution was to obtain a criminal conviction, the focus has shifted recently. More than ever, the federal government aims to confiscate assets through civil forfeiture. Thus, criminal charges have become secondary. This is simply because the confiscated assets can then be sold by the federal government. The profits from the sold assets benefit the federal agency that sold them. This has created a major incentive when it comes to the seizure of assets.
Defending Against Asset Confiscation
An asset forfeiture lawyer will first examine the evidence to see if the assets in question were truly related to any criminal activity. This must be firmly established before any of the assets can be seized and sold. By requesting an adverse preliminary hearing, an asset confiscation attorney can get ahead of the prosecution and work to protect a client’s property.
Call a Houston Asset Forfeiture Lawyer
Houston criminal lawyer James Alston has been defending clients against criminal charges for over 16 years. Before he worked as a defense lawyer, Mr. Alston was a Harris County assistant district attorney. He has key knowledge of how the prosecution operates, and he brings this experience to every aspect of his clients’ cases. He can help protect your property from being seized by the federal government. To get a free case evaluation, contact the Law Office of James Alston today.
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