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Civil Asset Forfeiture What To Do If Your Assets Have Been Seized by the U.S. Government

Civil Asset Forfeiture  What To Do If Your Assets Have Been Seized by the U.S. Government

By Lynn K. Ching

If your assets have been seized by the U.S. Government you must file a timely claim to contest the asset seizure in the United States District Court. A timely filed claim stops the administrative forfeiture proceeding, and the seizing agency forwards the timely claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further proceedings Failure to file a claim by the deadline date may result in the property being forfeited to the United States.

Where To File a Claim: A claim must be filed with the agency that gave notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit. To contest the forfeiture, the claim must be sent to the notifying agency’s address which is identified within the notice. A claim may be filed online (subject to the online exclusion below) or by mailing it via the U.S. Postal Service or a Commercial Delivery Service to the notifying agency’s address.

Time Limits: A claim must be filed by the deadline date identified in the notice. See 18 USC § 983(a)(2). A claim is deemed filed on the date received by the agency if mailed with the U.S. Postal Service or if sent by Commercial Delivery Service.

Requirements for Claim: While no specific form is required, a claim must be in writing, describe the seized property, state your ownership or other interest in the property, and be made under oath, subject to penalty of perjury or meet the requirements of an unsworn statement under penalty of perjury. See 18 USC § 983(a)(2)(C) and 28 USC §1746.

Supporting Evidence: Although not required, you may submit supporting evidence (for example, title paperwork or bank records showing your interest in the seized property) to substantiate your claim.

Online Claim Exclusions: If you cannot find the desired assets online, you must file your claim in writing. Any asset requiring a cost bond cannot be claimed online.

Lynn K. Ching is a partner and attorney at Diosdi Ching & Liu, LLP, located in San Francisco, California. Lynn may be reached at (415) 318-3990 or by email at lching@sftaxcounsel.com.

This article is not legal or tax advice. If you are in need of legal or tax advice, you should immediately consult a licensed attorney.