Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that permits the police to seize possessions that may be involved in criminal enterprises. For example, they may take homes, boats, guns, vehicles or electronics that have been owned by suspected drug dealers and, thus, may have been purchased with drug money. This process is highly controversial and also not very well understood by those outside the legal system. If you have any questions about civil asset forfeiture in San Diego, a criminal defense lawyer like Peter M. Liss can help.
While most people are at least vaguely aware that property can be taken away if it is connected to a crime, they aren’t aware just how easy it is for police to seize these items and how hard it can be for people to get their property back -even if they are innocent. In fact, the police do not even need to charge someone with a crime or prove their guilt in order to seize assets under civil asset forfeiture laws. In San Diego, if your property is taken, you can fight back to reclaim your property, but you will a lawyer to help you.
Fortunately, California offers property owners an “innocent owner” defense which many other states do not allow. This defense ensures that an innocent person tied to property subject to civil asset forfeiture in San Diego can get their items back with much less struggle. For example, a home owner renting to someone who commits a crime in the home will not be subject to having his or her property seized as long as that home owner was unaware of the illegal activity being performed by the renter. Additionally, if you were charged with a crime, but found innocent, you may be able to use this to your advantage when working to get your property returned. No matter what your exact circumstances, you should always speak with a lawyer if you have had property seized under civil asset forfeiture laws in San Diego County.
Additionally, the police often seize property or money without moving to forfeit under a civil forfeiture law. If police in California seize under $40,000 in cash it has to be returned unless there is a criminal conviction. If an amount over that was seized, you may have to fight the infraction and be found innocent or prove that the property completely unrelated to the crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can file a motion to force the return of the property. In state criminal court, you are presumed to be the rightful owner of property seized so the government has the burden of proving it was gained illicitly.
If you have any questions about civil asset forfeiture in San Diego or want to get your property back after it has been seized, please call (760) 643-4050 to speak with Peter M. Liss.
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