What is Criminal Asset Forfeiture?

 Posted on November 29, 2021 in Criminal Defense

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_665886625-min.jpg“Asset forfeiture” allows the federal government to seize property linked to a crime. This can include both the tools used to commit a crime and the proceeds. Civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture effectively accomplish the same goals, but criminal forfeiture is contingent on a conviction. As part of sentencing, the court may order the defendant to forfeit certain assets believed to be related to the crime. If you are facing federal charges, you are likely at risk of having your property seized. There are steps an attorney can take to help prevent this, so it is best to get in contact with one as soon as you learn you are being charged. 

What Assets Can Be Seized in Criminal Forfeiture?

The goal behind criminal asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal operations by confiscating the tools of the trade or by seizing their profits. The other purpose is to discourage crime - if you get caught, you lose your illicit earnings. If you are convicted of a federal crime, the government could take anything that it proves by a preponderance of the evidence represents the proceeds of a crime. 

This includes not just money it believes you earned from the crime, but also anything you have purchased with that money. Anything from your house to your bank account could be forfeited after a conviction. Criminal forfeiture is, however, limited in scope to only include assets related to the crime you are being sentenced for. So if you are being sentenced for bank fraud, criminal forfeiture would not reach money the government suspects you earned as a small-time drug dealer. 

If I Do Not Get Convicted, Are My Assets Safe? 

No. Even without a conviction, civil asset forfeiture can still result in you losing your property. Civil asset forfeiture allows the government to seize any property they suspect is linked to a crime, whether or not they charge anyone with a crime. Like criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture allows the government to take both tools used to commit crimes, such as drug manufacturing equipment and the proceeds of crime. 

The government must still prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property to be seized is linked to a crime. Still, it is surprising to many that it is possible for the government to take their property based on criminal allegations when there has been no conviction or even charges. 

Contact an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are at risk of losing your assets to criminal asset forfeiture, you will need an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer to protect both your future and your property. Call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in challenging asset seizures and may be able to help preserve your assets. 




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