1000 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2150
Los Angeles, California 90017
Forfeiture Attorney / Seized Assets Lawyer
Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws & How They Work
If your property was seized, then you may find that you are stymied by a system that would preferably keep the seized property than admit a mistake. You may be entirely innocent of any wrong doing, but nevertheless the property was seized. For example you may have unknowingly purchased an asset from a criminal and now the Government wants the asset you rightfully possess. Or you may have entered the United States and forgot to declare an asset at Customs. In these cases and others, the Government will keep the seized property if one fails or refuses to exercise their Rights.
There four doctrines in criminal and civil forfeiture law. The four doctrines include: 1) the relation back doctrine, the heart of forfeiture law; 2) the innocent owner exemption; 3) property subject to forfeiture; and 4) disproportionality. The difference between civil and criminal proceedings are that in civil proceedings some tests are subjective and in criminal proceedings those same tests may be objective.
To simplify the typical forfeiture process, the standard is not beyond a reasonable doubt for the Government to prove that the property should be forfeited. It is a lesser standard, hence making it easier for the Government to prevail. Therefore in forfeiture law, the Government only needs to contend that the seized property is subject to forfeiture. Under asset forfeiture law the best strategy is to trace the proceeds to a legitimate purpose and not to a bank account or a relative.
In forfeiture proceedings, time is of the essence. It is crucial to respond immediately to the Government's notice. Moreover, it is very important that the response is timely, thorough and precise because the forfeiture laws are design so that if any requirement is missing the Government prevails.
Having practiced forfeiture claims for several years, I wish to share with you some information that is essential to your defense. Early involvement by your civil asset forfeiture lawyer is crucial.
Whether you are facing civil or criminal asset forfeiture proceedings, retaining a civil asset forfeiture lawyer soon after receiving notice is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, failing to respond to the notice in a timely matter may result in a default, meaning that the seized property is lost forever to the government. Second, a timely response must be completed properly, or again the seized property may result in default. Moreover, in addition to the time constraints, many crucial decisions must be made within 30 days of the notice.
Reclaimed Forfeiture Assets
We have been able to successfully reclaim property for our clients from the federal government, the FBI, the DEA, ICE, U.S. Customs, the Secret Service, the State of California, Los Angeles County and Orange County, California. The reclaimed property includes hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of: cash, homes, planes, motorcycles, automobiles, weapons, real estate, jewerly, etc. Many of our clients are not criminals, but third parties who were surprised that their property was seized.
Michael Devereux's success as a civil asset forfeiture lawyer is based upon his integrity, mastery of forfeiture laws, attention to detail and his willingness to confront issues with the government head on. Michael Cernyar was nominated by the Cochran Firm as their top attorney in the fall of 2005. Soon after, Michael started his own law firm. Recently, Michael Devereux was nominated for LegalForce Best Lawyer by LegalForce Media Publications in California. Michael Devereux represents clients throughout the United States.