What Is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

 What Is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Civil asset forfeiture is a practice used by federal and state law enforcement agencies to seize the private property of citizens if it was obtained illegally or using funds from illegal activity. If the government has taken your property as a civil asset forfeiture, it’s important to know your rights and legal options.

North Carolina Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

North Carolina has stricter civil asset forfeiture laws than many other states. Some other states allow law enforcement agencies to use some of the proceeds they’ve seized for their department’s own benefit, but North Carolina requires that these proceeds may only be used for the benefit of the public school system.

North Carolina also requires that property can only be seized after an individual is convicted of a related crime. These laws provide important protections to North Carolina residents who may be deprived of their property using civil forfeiture.

Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture and Equitable Sharing

Unfortunately, federal civil asset forfeiture laws are much less restrictive, giving wide latitude and incentives to law enforcement agencies. A person is not required to be convicted or even charged with a crime before a civil forfeiture occurs. 

The standard of proof is less rigorous in a civil asset forfeiture case than in a criminal trial. Therefore, it’s possible that you could lose a civil asset forfeiture case even when the government would not be able to get a conviction for the related criminal offense.

The concept of equitable sharing allows state law enforcement agencies to make asset seizures under federal law. These seizures need not comply with North Carolina’s civil forfeiture laws, and the law enforcement agencies may keep a portion of the seized property.

Responding to Civil Asset Forfeiture

You should contact a civil asset forfeiture attorney immediately if your property has been seized by a federal or state law enforcement agency. Some citizens do not understand their rights and don’t take the right steps to seek a return of seized property. These cases may involve very valuable assets that may be necessary to provide for and support you and your family.

Contact our criminal defense attorneys to discuss your case and options for defending yourself against civil asset forfeiture.

King Law handles criminal defense matters in North and South Carolina, including civil asset forfeiture cases. Call 888-748-KING (5464) today to set up a consultation with one of our dedicated criminal defense attorneys.

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