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Understanding federal asset forfeiture in drug cases

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Drug Charges

In drug-related cases, the government has the right to seize property that individuals have purchased with the proceeds of illegal drug transactions or used to facilitate drug crimes. The state defines this process as asset forfeiture and uses it as a powerful tool to discourage drug trafficking. However, asset forfeiture can also be controversial and raise serious questions about due process and property rights.

What is asset forfeiture?

In drug cases, assets subject to forfeiture can include cash, vehicles, real estate, and other property used to facilitate or profit from drug trafficking. Asset forfeiture can occur administratively, meaning that the government can seize property without a criminal conviction or as a result of a criminal conviction.

Government’s rights to seizure

The government has the right to seize property used for drug crimes, even if the owner was not directly involved in the crime. For instance, if an owner uses a house to store drugs or for drug deals, the government may be able to seize it. The Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program oversees asset forfeiture.

Defendants’ right to defend property

Defendants have the right to defend their property from seizure and can challenge the government’s forfeiture action in a civil trial. In order to contest the seizure of assets, defendants must file a claim within 35 days of the notification of property forfeiture. Defenses may include showing that the property was not involved in drug crimes or that the government’s seizure was unconstitutional.

Protect your rights

If you are a defendant facing federal asset forfeiture, it’s important to understand your rights. While the government has broad powers to seize property associated with drug trafficking, defendants have the right to defend their property and challenge the government’s forfeiture action in court. It is crucial to protect your rights and ensure that the government’s seizure of your property is lawful and constitutional.


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