CRIMINAL VS. CIVIL FORFEITURE PROCEEDINGS
Under state and federal law, the government can seize any property or assets it believes a defendant acquired through illegal activity. They often grab it first (many times on flimsy evidence or suspicion) and “ask questions later.”
Once the government decides to initiate a criminal or civil forfeiture, it can freeze bank accounts and seize assets targeted by the forfeiture proceeding. Since forfeiture is not a part of a criminal charge, nor does it require a conviction (or even a prosecution); it takes place independently of any criminal trial and is unaffected by the outcome of it. As a result, you can actually be found not guilty of the charges against you and still lose the civil forfeiture proceeding. This is because the standard of proof in civil matters is substantially lower than in criminal cases. In fact, you can suffer a civil forfeiture action and have your money or other assets seized and forfeited by the government with no criminal case ever having been filed.
Attorney James W. Burdick works with forensic accountants in challenging the government’s forfeiture claims against you. He has experience convincing authorities that they have barked up the wrong tree. In some cases, he can even preempt a criminal case or civil forfeiture by demanding the court reject the government’s grounds for pressing its case in special defensive lawsuits against the government. By demanding that the court review the government’s allegations before letting it hold onto your hard-earned assets, we can expose evidence that is merely circumstantial and assumptions that are not supported by accounting evidence or tax returns.
THE CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE REFORM ACT
Because of all the abuses by the government against many defenseless – and innocent – citizens, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act was passed with broad bipartisan support in the Congress. It makes a number of good changes in the way the government is required to act and respond, though it still does not go nearly far enough, and abuses continue to happen daily.
Unfortunately, a number of police departments and municipalities fund many of their pet projects and programs through criminal and civil forfeitures, and the trend is getting so much worse. It’s like the Wild West out there. That means police and the government have great financial incentives to look for any excuse to take property they have no good reason to take and hope that, at the very least, they will be able to negotiate a good-sized chunk for their departments even from completely innocent people. While the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act has introduced many reforms and forced the government to bring its case quickly, or give back the property, groundless civil forfeitures still plague innocent, hard working citizens like you.
DEFENDING AGAINST CIVIL FORFEITURE CLAIMS
In order for a civil forfeiture to uphold a challenge, the government must first prove that the property is forfeitable, and then the burden of proof in federal cases reverts to the property owner to prove that it is not. So, in challenging civil forfeitures, it’s important to critically examine the government’s reasons for seizing the property in question in the first place.
All too often a civil forfeiture takes place for tenuous reasons at best. As your attorney, Jim Burdick will expose mistakes and violations of due process on the part of government agents in civil forfeiture cases and fight diligently to ensure that your rights and your hard-earned assets are protected.
“With your expert guidance, I was able to fashion a [critical strategy] which enabled me to appear in court with a sense of confidence I would not otherwise have and to successfully articulate my client’s position, respond to every question the judge asked, with the winning case law, which wouldn’t have been in my arsenal without your invaluable help.”
From another lawyer
PROTECT YOUR ASSETS AND ASSETS
If you have had lost property to government agents, or assets are being threatened by a civil forfeiture case, contact Jim Burdick today to learn how we can help you. Regardless of what you’ve been told or led to believe after talking to law enforcement, government agents, or unsophisticated or inexperienced attorneys, you can challenge the forfeiture without going broke in the process.
Assets the government commonly seizes if they believe criminal violation have occurred include all bank and security accounts, including pension, profit sharing, 401K accounts; cars, trucks, campers, boats, airplanes, houses and other real estate; businesses, hotels, motels, computers, laptops, cell phones, jewelry – even machinery, tools of trade. More often than not, they do not distinguish between an accused’s assets and his or her spouse’s, children’s or parents’ assets or the assets the target had long before the alleged misconduct.
And once they get their hands on these assets, getting them back, even to use temporarily for work, to pay your mortgage and hire a lawyer, is often extremely difficult and frustrating, as the government agents constantly say they need time, for example, to copy all content on computers, or that the cars “will be used” by the accused to continue the criminal activity, or flee from justice. They even seize money set aside for lawyers’ fees, as the government claims everything that an accused has of any value was obtained through means of criminal conduct, and the “relation back doctrine” of forfeiture means “it always was” the property of the government the moment it was earned, bought, or repaired with criminally derived funds.
TIME IS TRULY OF THE ESSENCE
If you ran a business for 40 years, and the government decides you engaged in criminal conduct for the last three or four or five years only, they still seize every single asset of any value on the claim that you were “probably” committing crimes even before their own evidence says it started.
The “grab-first-and-litigate-later” process often leaves citizens accused of crimes, but not proven guilty of anything, without any assets with which to fight the government, carry on their business or work, or even pay their car loans or the mortgage on their homes. The government’s purpose is often to force a settlement and/or guilty plea — even if the defendant is innocent.
Time is of the essence in defending your rights. Jim Burdick will work hard to ensure that you receive a fair and just result in your case, and that those assets rightfully yours are protected or returned. He will do everything in his power to make sure that your rights are protected, and that you are treated fairly while always working to minimize any negative impact on you.
Contact Jim Burdick to put our trial experience and expertise to work defending you.