The Entrepreneur Law Center provides a variety of civil forfeiture services to law enforcement agencies, governmental entities, insurance companies, and other private entities. Civil forfeiture is a mechanism through which the government or other parties can seize property that is connected to illegal activity. In order for the government to make a claim on any property, it must establish that the property is contraband, was obtained with the proceeds of crime, or is an instrumentality of a crime. In order for property to be considered an instrumentality, it must be designed or intended for use or have been used as the means of committing a criminal offense.
It is noteworthy to distinguish between civil forfeiture actions and criminal forfeiture actions. Civil forfeiture proceedings are not criminal proceedings, and the owner of the property does not need to be a defendant. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the standard of proof required in a civil forfeiture action is “clear and convincing evidence”, rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which significantly reduces the burden the government must bear to prevail in the action.
Civil forfeiture is not automatic but requires prevailing in court, and the law requires a showing that the property is subject to seizure by the government. For items that are illegal to possess, forfeiture is practically automatic. If the government is claiming that the property is an instrumentality of the crime, there are several factors that need to be considered: (a) whether the use of the property in the offense was deliberate and planed or merely incidental and fortuitous; (b) whether the property was important to the success of the illegal activity; (c) the time during which the property was illegally used and the spatial extent of its use; (d) whether it’s illegal use was an isolated event or had been repeated; and (e) whether the purpose of acquiring, maintaining, or using the property was to carry out the offense. Clearly forfeiture actions can be the subject of intense litigation, which requires attorneys with not only skills as trial attorneys, but often in forensic accounting and fraud examination. At the Entrepreneur Law Center, we have extensive experience not only as attorneys, but as forensic accountants and fraud examiners, which greatly enhances our ability to analyze a given case and represent our clients’ interests vigorously.
Civil Forfeiture services to Law Enforcement Agencies, Governmental Agencies, and Private Entities:
- Assistance with investigations to prepare for civil forfeiture actions;
- Assessment of fraud implications and examination of fraud elements in ongoing cases;
- Representation of governmental agencies in civil forfeiture legal proceedings; and
- Advising governmental and law enforcement agencies on issues related to seized assets and assets subject to forfeiture.