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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.