Houston Civil Forfeiture Lawyer
Suppose you are a citizen of Houston and have been accused of theft or criminal activity. In that case, Harris County may be eligible to receive restitution for confiscating your personal property. You should immediately contact Houston Civil Forfeiture Lawyer) if you feel that your property has been seized illegally. In some cases, the courts may not even recognize the legal basis for the confiscation, but you can challenge the seizure.
What is Civil Forfeiture?
In some instances, police can seize any property – including cash, jewelry, and cars – for alleged crimes. Forfeiture is an unjust process in which the government keeps the property without proving a crime. Hundreds of millions of dollars are forfeited annually in the U.S. due to civil forfeiture, often used to enforce drug laws.
Forfeitures can occur for many different reasons, and the history of civil forfeiture is long and complex. In the middle of the 1600s, the British Navigation Acts required ships to call at British ports. If a boat did not abide by these laws, the authorities could seize its cargo and hold it as evidence. The laws were created to help tax collectors collect taxes and finance early federal expenses, so forfeiture became a popular way to seize and keep the property.
In criminal cases, civil forfeiture is different. Under civil forfeiture, the government takes the property associated with a crime after a conviction. Because the procedure involves property, the burden of proof is significantly lower than in criminal proceedings. The prosecutor must prove enough evidence to secure the property while the defendant must explain its legality. This is a complicated process, but the consequences of civil forfeiture can be severe.
The government uses civil forfeiture to protect victims and the public. For example, it has been used to seize illegal drugs from crack houses, a severe public health threat, as well as for seizing real estate and given to nonprofit organizations to develop neighborhoods. And at times, it is used to return billions of dollars to the victims of white-collar crimes. Once again, civil forfeiture has proven to be an essential tool for law enforcement in the fight against crime.
How do Civil Forfeiture Laws Affect You As A Citizen?
How do Civil Forfeiture Laws Impact You As a Citizen? Most people do not realize that these laws affect their daily lives. Many forfeiture cases result in a loss of income and property. For example, Travis, Zuri, and Caleb were all self-employed and were forced to miss work and income. Their forfeiture cases were re-listed multiple times. In addition, they had to use personal time to pursue their claim.
The use of civil forfeiture was originally meant to combat crimes that were outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S., like piracy and human trafficking. However, civil forfeiture is still used in many cases, including human trafficking and slave trading. These crimes are widespread, extending from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia. However, you can argue that these laws are abusive.
A recent study commissioned by the ACLU shows that forfeiture laws are disproportionately applied to minorities. This is partly because minorities are more likely to be forfeiture victims. Minorities, low-income families, and those without college degrees are particularly disadvantaged. The ACLU also found that these disadvantaged people are more likely to be incarcerated, earn lower incomes, and have fewer assets than other citizens.
The process of reclaiming property taken through civil forfeiture can take months or even years. Sometimes, owners have as little as ten days to make a claim. In some cases, the entire process takes several months. One study by Warchol and Johnson found that the process takes between 215 and 340 days. In South Carolina, for example, it took state prosecutors 304 days to file paperwork.
Is Civil Forfeiture Legal?
While civil forfeiture is not entirely legal, it has some legal implications. Generally, it allows the government to seize property to enforce its law. In many cases, a defendant is not even charged or tried, and the government can seize his or her assets regardless of whether or not he was convicted of the crime. In these instances, they cannot even get their property back.
In addition to limiting the amount of money that can be seized, civil forfeiture has other benefits. It combats crime by taking away assets needed for criminal activities. By removing these assets, the government fights crime and gives law enforcement resources to fight more crimes. This helps keep the public safer, and the U.S. Constitution guarantees property owners are entitled to due process.
As of 2019, marijuana remains illegal under Federal law. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) uses civil forfeiture to fund its operations. In 2013, the DEA collected $18 million through this program. However, legalization advocates have objected to the practice. Furthermore, seizures of marijuana-related properties are included in civil forfeiture funding. To eliminate the practice, a bill has been introduced in Congress that would ban it entirely.
While civil asset forfeiture has some benefits, it also has many drawbacks. One of these is that it provides agencies with a perverse incentive. Before 1984, the proceeds of civil asset forfeiture went into the general fund, but now departments routinely take 20% of their annual budgets from the money they receive. This practice is known as “policing for profit” and is becoming an increasingly widespread phenomenon.
Remedies for Civil Forfeiture Cases
A judicial proceeding called civil forfeiture is often necessary in cases of international money laundering, human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, and theft of antiquities. Such cases are often difficult to prosecute, but the law allows for the forfeiture of property used to commission a crime. The full extent of the forfeiture remedy depends on whether the instrumentality is used in the commission of the crime and how important it is to its intended end.
Forfeiture laws have become increasingly punitive over time, and the court has often deviated from historical non-penal justifications for forfeitures. To this end, law enforcement agencies use criminal law enforcement tactics to achieve civil forfeiture goals, often advancing criminal punishment. Many forfeiture statutes are now punitive, based on Supreme Court criteria. Hence, civil forfeiture laws may not be as clear-cut as they seem at first glance.
The use of civil forfeiture is justified in some instances, such as in the case of illegal firearms. The purpose of civil forfeiture is to combat crime by taking away the assets needed for criminal activities. It also reduces the profitability of criminal activity by enabling law enforcement to pursue more effective measures to combat crime. Moreover, it improves the public’s safety. Courts have repeatedly found these goals compelling, overriding the constitutional protections governing civil forfeiture.
The 10th Amendment and Civil Forfeiture Laws
The United States Supreme Court has criticized the legality of civil forfeiture laws and the misuse of seized property. Although forfeiture laws were created to protect the public from wrongful arrests and seizures, critics say that forfeiture laws violate the 10th Amendment and rob property owners of their due process rights. Giving law enforcement an economic stake in civil forfeiture also distorts priorities and encourages the pursuit of property over the administration of justice.
To make a property forfeitable, the government must prove its right to take it. This is done by filing a civil action against the property. Civil forfeiture can occur before, during, or after a criminal case. A civil forfeiture action can be filed even if the owner is not indicted or acquitted of a criminal offense.
The Supreme Court has come full circle in its exposition of the Tenth Amendment, first by upholding the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act. Then, in 1941, it explicitly restated Marshall’s thesis in the Fair Labor Standards Act. In this case, Chief Justice Stone spoke for a unanimous Court and noted that states could not enlarge their power to regulate interstate commerce.
The collapse of the guilty property justification indicates that civil forfeiture laws are highly punitive. As a result, law enforcement practices have changed to enforce civil forfeiture laws. As Justice Kennedy stated in the Supreme Court case, “states cannot evade their burden of proof by implementing a civil forfeiture system.” This means that a seized property cannot be retrieved from the owner if the owner cannot prove it wasn’t involved in any criminal activity.
The Impact on Texas Property Owners Regarding Civil Forfeiture
The bill was introduced in 2011 and passed with minimal opposition. However, the disproportionate impact on people of color and low-income families has led some lawmakers to call for further reforms. These people are left with no means to fight the government, but they are still subject to asset forfeiture. This issue is a hot topic, and the Texas legislature will have to decide whether to pass it or not.
In the past, civil asset forfeiture has snared innocent victims. In Hall County, Laura Dutton was stopped and had over $29,000 in cash confiscated. She had been charged with money laundering but was vindicated when the charges were dropped. A recent study found that Texas law enforcement officials have been using civil forfeiture to make a profit.
Moreover, the burden of proof for law enforcement agencies is low. The state’s law requires agencies to show that the property is associated with criminal activity by “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is much lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. In addition, Texas property owners have weak protections and must prove their innocence. If the government can prove they have nothing to do with alleged crimes, they can keep the money.
Asset forfeiture is a way of fighting the criminals in organizations at the top of the organization. As such, the Texas Legislature has opted to limit the use of seized funds. Many innocent owners cannot afford lawyers, so Texas lawmakers have refused to provide detailed information on the impact of civil forfeiture on property owners. Therefore, finding the truth behind the case is essential and ensuring innocent property owners get their money back.
The rate of conviction and guilty pleas vary marginally between those who do not try to recover their property. But the non-conviction rate is higher, which suggests that other aspects of the city’s forfeiture system are more critical. However, the state of Texas is determined by the number of people responsible for the crime and have the property to prove their guilt.
The Texas Civil Forfeiture Law is a complicated piece of legislation that must be properly understood. For a civil forfeiture to work, the government must demonstrate a substantial connection between the property and the offense. To do this, the government must show that the property was used for the commission of an illegal activity or that the property was acquired with proceeds from that crime.
Finding an attorney who can litigate these issues is most important. With over thirty years of experience, Tripodi Law Firm, knows how to handle your Civil Forfeiture Case.