Two types of forfeitures exist in federal cases: civil forfeitures and criminal forfeitures. Civil forfeiture proceedings are brought against the property which is owned by a defendant. The property can be real property, securities, or proceeds of a bank account. The property in a civil forfeiture is often seized during the execution of a search warrant. The person whose property was seized by the government and wants to recover the seized property is known as the claimant. In order to recover seized property, the claimant must timely file an administrative claim with the federal agency that seized the property at issue. The claimant must then answer a forfeiture claim before a United States district court. To prevail in a civil forfeiture case, the claimant demonstrate that the property seized was not traceable to or involved in criminal activity.
In a criminal forfeiture proceeding, an action is filed in court personally against a criminal defendant and is typically asserted in a criminal indictment. To assert rights to property in a criminal forfeiture case, claimant wait a district court makes a determination regarding a defendant’s guilt or innocence. At the point, the claimant files a petition with the district court regarding his or her rights in the seized property. The claimant must demonstrate that their rights are superior to that of the criminal defendant and that the claimant was a bona fide purchaser for value.
If you had property seized by a federal agency, contact the criminal tax attorneys at Diosdi Ching & Liu, LLP.