State and federal forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize private property that was allegedly used in connection with or was obtained using proceeds from the commission of an alleged crime. Civil forfeiture laws frequently allow for government agencies to seize and sell personal property without any regard for the innocence of the property owner.
Many people have little to knowledge about forfeiture laws, making the already difficult process of challenging any seizure even more confusing. Government agencies will send property owners a notice of seizure following any seizure actions, and property owners have an extremely limited amount of time to respond in order to try and reclaim their property.
If a federal or state agency in Florida has confiscated you property under forfeiture laws, you will want to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Terrezza Law helps clients throughout the greater Pensacola area, including Navarre, Gulf Breeze, Milton, and Pensacola Beach.
John Terrezza is a criminal defense attorney in Pensacola who can identify and pursue the best possible avenues to help you regain your property. Call (850) 764-5291 right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options.
Not all forfeiture cases are the same. Several key differences exist between civil and criminal forfeiture cases:
The types of property that may be seized by law enforcement varies from case to case depending on the alleged criminal offense or how the property was used or obtained. Some of the assets most commonly seized by government agencies include, but are not limited to:
People may have one of several possible claims that allow them to regain property seized by a government agency. Some defenses may be applicable in relation to certain forfeiture statutes.
A few successful defenses in these cases include, but are not limited to:
Asset Forfeiture Abuse | American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — The ACLU is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that considers itself “our nation's guardian of liberty.” On this section of the ACLU website, you can find videos, court cases, and reports about civil asset forfeiture. You can also find blogs, feature stories, and recent press releases.
Policing for Profit | Institute for Justice — The Institute for Justice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public-interest organization. In November 2015, it released the second edition of this report detailing abusive civil forfeiture practices across the nation. You can find various statistics and graphics as well as individual report cards for each state’s civil forfeiture laws. Florida earned a D+ for its civil forfeiture laws with as much as 85 percent of forfeiture proceeds going to law enforcement.
Asset Forfeiture Program Fiscal Year 2014 Florida | U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — Federal forfeiture statistics for Florida can be found on this section of the DOJ website. Reports break down the cash value, sales proceeds, and agency types for various law enforcement agencies in the Sunshine State. On this website, you can also find reports to Congress for each of the previous 10 years.
Are you the target of a criminal or civil asset forfeiture action in Florida? You should know that you have the right to protect your property and it is in your best interest to immediately contact Terrezza Law for help identifying your strongest defense strategies.
Pensacola criminal defense attorney John Terrezza aggressively defends clients throughout Escambia County and Santa Rosa County. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (850) 764-5291 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.