Money seizure lawyer Miami

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Every year Customs seizes hundreds of millions of dollars of merchandise from individuals arriving or departing from Miami International Airport, and many other airports throughout the United States. Our civil forfeiture defense attorneys have personally refunded money seized by U.S. Customs from our clients in South Florida. If law enforcement seized your property or cash assets, a money seizure lawyer Miami might be able to help. Only a few civil forfeiture defense attorneys have experience claiming property taken under civil forfeiture laws.

This article will cover many important aspects of money seizure. You can learn about your rights under money seizure laws or property seizure laws that may support your case, and what we can do to build a solid civil forfeiture defense. You will also learn about the difference between seizure and forfeiture, how you can recover your money, the statute of limitations to file your case, and questions our clients often ask. The possibilities are limitless when you trust our expertise.

Seizure legal definition

A seizure is the act of law enforcement seizing possessions such as cash, vehicles, and real estate because they believe it has some connection to a crime. Property can be taken to fulfill an unpaid judgment as well, as long as there was a notice of seizure for the total due. But the constitution limits property seizure laws. A search warrant must exist or a probable cause to believe a crime occurred.

Reasons for money seizure at airports

Customs officers or police officers are allowed to seize cash from someone entering the United States or an individual already in the country, as long as the cash comes from a criminal act, or they believe it will be used unlawfully. Nevertheless, the prosecution must prove that the money was used illegally. The currency can be held for up to 48 hours in an account that carries interest unless there is a court order that allows it to remain longer.

These types of searches happen often at airports all over the nation. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is always ready to search and seize property as well as monitor drug smuggling, especially since 9/11. The CBP is looking for jewelry, alcoholic beverages, and any other items acquired overseas, but most importantly, they are looking for cash. Drug seizures make sense, but cash seizures are sometimes unnecessary. The forfeiture of private property is only legal when is connected to a crime, according to cash seizure laws.

Differences between seizure and forfeiture

A seizure involves the act of someone taking a property, particularly law enforcement, and forfeiture occurs when you lose your rights to the property or money seized by U.S. Customs. A seizure happens first when the possessions are taken based on the belief that it was linked to a crime. The properties are stored in an evidence room; impound lot, or bank account. Forfeiture happens next. It is essentially litigation by prosecutors to allow the government to keep the property. It helps determine whether the property should be permanently transferred to the government or not.

What can I do when U.S. Customs or DEA has seized my money?

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can seize your property when they believe it is linked to a crime. Only a money seizure attorney is equipped to handle this controversial area of law. The process that you have to go through to get your cash depends on whether the airport cash seizure was done by state, federal, or local law enforcement. Cases that occur at the airport are generally categorized as federal cases.

It is natural for travelers at airports to be distracted and give consent to a search. The DEA has the power to search in airports and seize money linked to illegal activities. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) can also take cash at border crossings in the airport and roads. Civil forfeiture laws forbid you from filing a lawsuit right away but instead wait for the federal government to do their part. You should receive a letter of notification of forfeiture in about 90 days after the date of seizure, and you only have 30 days to respond. However, if they are taking too long, you can always write a letter inquiring about the reasons for the delay and keep copies of all communication.

Some possible civil forfeiture defenses include:

  • Innocent owner – When you can show that you didn’t know your property was used for illegal activities.
  • Unreasonable delay – This is when the government takes too much time to file your case and bring it to trial.
  • Unlawful search and seizure – They allow you to suppress evidence as long as you can prove it was seized illegally.
  • Statutory defenses – There may be other civil forfeiture defenses that apply to your specific circumstances.
  • Disproportionality – This is when the forfeiture is disproportionate to the actual offense committed.

Recover your money with an effective civil forfeiture defense

An effective civil forfeiture defense is your key to recovering property following government seizures. Based on the facts of your case, you may be able to recover all or some of your property. Unfortunately, many people lose property to asset forfeiture every day, and they are not aware of their rights because they hired the wrong civil forfeiture defense attorneys. It is essential you learn your constitutional rights and claim them. But to do so; you must first prove a few things.

Proving legitimate sources of income

When law enforcement seizes your property, they must demonstrate it was involved in criminal activity. To succeed in civil forfeiture defense, your attorney will ask you two fundamental questions:

  • Where did the money come from?
  • What was the money used for?

Things can get complicated. Therefore, you need the right information to win your case but also adequate legal representation. Although property seizure laws are there, they are not designed to help you succeed. Property seizure often happens to innocent people that work in the cash business who have lawfully earned money seized by U.S. Customs at Miami International Airport, and could not document the source of their income. Retail shop owners, bartenders, exotic dancers, gamblers and individuals in the legal marijuana business, are often the most targeted individuals.

The types of documents required to prove the legitimacy of a source of income can vary from case to case. But documents alone will not do you any good unless your money seizure lawyer knows how to use them.

Proving a legitimate use of seized money

Proving a legitimate use of seized money can be a challenging process, mainly if it was not adequately documented. People carry cash for so many reasons. For example, some people may wish to purchase a vehicle with cash to get a better deal or perhaps someone is returning from a casino, and others just get paid cash for their work.

These types of scenarios will require gathering witness testimony, adequate documentation, and other evidence such as emails, records, social media posts, and any additional evidentiary support that helps demonstrate what the money was used for. Your civil forfeiture attorney can help you gather this evidence and support your claim.

Let an experienced money seizure lawyer fight for you

A money seizure lawyer Miami from Gallardo Law Firm knows how to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies or prosecutors to recover money taken from you. Although civil forfeiture statutes give the right to these individuals and agencies to seize property they believe is linked to a crime, it doesn’t mean it rightfully belongs to them, or they can legally keep it. Unfortunately, very little evidence is required to take these things from you. Consequently, even innocent property owners, whose property was part of someone else’s crime, may not be spared.

Statute of limitations in civil forfeiture involving cash confiscation

Civil lawsuits must be filed within a specified period of time. The statute of limitations runs from the day the criminal forfeiture occurred, which is generally five years. In 2017, The United States Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can’t seek illegal profits obtained beyond the five-year statute of limitations.

We can help you with cash seizure at Miami Airport

If your property was taken due to an alleged connection to a crime, a money seizure lawyer Miami from Gallardo Law Firm can draw from his or her experience working with law enforcement and ensure you get some of your cash assets back. To learn more about your options and to schedule a confidential case evaluation, contact us today.

FAQS
The government is allowed to take cash assets or property that they believed was linked to criminal activities, which includes money, automobiles, bank accounts, jewelry, and real estate, as long as they can prove the assets were part of a crime.
Your civil forfeiture attorney can help you determine whether you should file a petition for mitigation or seek the resolution of your case through litigation. The government will have to prove the property was linked to illegal activity. Most property can be traced to legitimate use, but you need an attorney to help you study your case.
Your case can take anywhere from several months to a few years. These cases require that your civil forfeiture attorney invests time and resources trying to figure out the best course of action through investigating your circumstances and gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim.
The money seized by the United States Government is held in escrow pending final order. For you to stop this process, you have to wait to receive a letter from the federal government. Once you get the letter, your civil forfeiture attorney should reply.
Unfortunately, civil asset forfeiture statutes remove many procedural safeguards enjoyed in civil cases. Even innocent third parties enjoy less protection than in criminal cases. However, they have been supported in many constitutional challenges over the years.
TSA is not required to get a search warrant for every single passenger at the airport since airport searches fall into the “special needs exception” to the Fourth Amendment. This exception applies to luggage screening and also to random searches at the airport. Courts will evaluate these cases individually balancing the need to search and invasion of privacy.
You can legally transport any amount of money into the United States, but if you carry more than $10,000, you must file a report stating the amount of funds transported. If you don’t declare it, you run the risk of all the money being taken away and the penalties can be severe. These penalties also apply to monetary instruments such as traveler’s checks, domestic or foreign bank notes, and foreign currency. It is highly recommended you hire a civil forfeiture attorney with experience in this area of law to help you determine the best course of action.
The government is keeping a lot of money from people at the airport because they don’t know how to fight back. A money seizure lawyer knows how to make a winning argument and to present your case before the judge. You must pick the right battles and armed yourself to win them. But you can’t do it alone. Civil forfeiture laws are too complicated to navigate on your own.
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