Asset Forfeiture Attorney
If you've been charged with a crime, you may also face asset forfeiture, which involves the seizure of your property.
An asset forfeiture lawyer can contest forfeiture notices from the federal government as well as Texas state authorities.
Whether you're facing criminal or civil forfeiture, the attorneys at Paul Doyle & Associates in Houston, TX, can help protect your property.
What Is Asset Forfeiture? Understanding the Seizure of Assets
Also known as asset seizure, asset forfeiture is when authorities confiscate a person's assets that are related to the commission of a crime. A civil asset forfeiture lawsuit is filed by the government against your assets.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of federal and state statutes that trigger asset forfeiture. The connection between the property and the illegal activity does not even have to be substantially related. Moreover, the seizure of your property does not require a criminal conviction or even a criminal charge.
Generally, when the government seizes property, it has 30 days to file notice of forfeiture and commence the proceedings.
Federal and State Law Allows
the Seizure of Any Property:
- Used to commit a crime
- Acquired through the commission of a crime
- Purchased with proceeds from the commission of a crime
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What Assets Can the Government Take? Examples of Property Seized During Forfeiture
Some examples of the types of property that are commonly seized through asset forfeiture include:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Motor vehicles
- Cell phones
Once the government has decided to seize your property, they tend to take everything in sight, including property that you own lawfully. The government will often take any item that holds value in order to prevent you from hiring an attorney.
Facing Asset Seizure?
Contact Attorney Paul Doyle
It is important that you contact criminal defense attorney Paul Doyle to respond to any forfeiture notice. A failure to respond to the forfeiture notice can lead to the permanent loss of property without any further due process.
An asset forfeiture attorney will review the forfeiture process so you know what to expect. Your attorney can also protect your property from seizure, restoring assets while offering insight into the criminal or civil proceedings ahead.
To learn more about asset forfeiture and your legal options, contact Paul Doyle & Associates today. You can also reach our Houston, TX, law firm by phone at:
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"Paul Doyle & Associates are very professional and know how to get favorable results. Despite the obstacles, Paul Doyle worked arduously and diligently resulting in my case being dismissed. Special thanks to Paul, Trevor and Maria for your courtesy and professionalism. I highly recommend Paul Doyle & Associates if you find yourself in need of an awesome Criminal Defense Attorney. Thanks again!"
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A Recent Forfeiture Case What We Can Do For You
During a drug possession case, the government overstepped its bounds and seized over $80,000 from one of attorney Paul Doyle’s clients. The government claimed that all of the cash in the defendant's possession was either from drugs or going to be used to buy more drugs. Paul Doyle & Associates fought the government’s claim and won back every single dollar.
Defenses to Asset Forfeiture
Whether it's the federal government or Texas state authorities, the government has the burden of proof to show that the seized property was used to commit a crime, acquired through the commission of a crime, or purchased with proceeds from the commission of a crime.
Given this fact, a criminal defense attorney has a number of options when representing clients facing criminal or civil asset forfeiture. The attorneys at Paul Doyle & Associates can discuss the ideal strategy with you during a free consultation at our Houston law office.
Innocent Owner Defense
If you can show that the owner or a co-owner was not aware that the property was illegally obtained or that a tenant was using the property for illegal activity, then you can prevent the government from seizing assets.
Another example is if you can prove that an innocent spouse was a co-owner of the home and the home is used for an innocent purpose, such as providing shelter for their family. The court is required to limit the value of any real property to the value necessary to maintain shelter for the claimant and all of their dependents residing therein.
If an innocent party has only a partial interest in the property, then the court may sever the interest of the guilty party, dividing the property between the government and the innocent party.
Another possible defense is that the value of the forfeited property is disproportionate to the crime alleged. This is rooted in a person's Eighth Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution regarding excessive fines.
In these cases, civil forfeitures cannot be used as punitive measures against alleged criminals. By sticking to proportionate forfeitures based on the alleged criminal acts, our asset forfeiture attorneys can prevent abuse of forfeiture laws by state and local law enforcement.
A successful defense using the proportionality strategy might be based on evidence provided by a forensic accountant who shows that your property was purchased with legitimate funds rather than with assets obtained through criminal acts.
Illegal Search and Seizure
In addition to Eight Amendment protections, you are also protected by the Fourth Amendment from illegal search and seizure of your property.
If federal authorities or local law enforcement do not have a search warrant or have not entered a preliminary order of forfeiture, they cannot proceed with a search of your property or take any assets.
Thanks to his years of service at the Harris County DA's office, attorney Paul Doyle understands proper police protocol. He will hold authorities accountable if they fail to obtain a search warrant or if they abuse your Constitutional protections.
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