Nashville Federal Criminal, Civil and Administrative Forfeiture Attorney
In federal criminal cases in which a profit was arguably derived from the commission of the alleged crime, we often see collateral criminal and/or civil forfeiture actions. Conceptually, asset forfeiture laws are designed to be a potent deterrent to criminal activity by layering steep financial consequences on top of the criminal punishments imposed after conviction (i.e., prison, fines, restitution, supervision and costs). However, because funds seized through asset forfeiture are directed into law enforcement efforts, wealthier clients often become the targets of more aggressive prosecutions. In fact, in testimony given to the House Judiciary Committee, several senators voiced concern about the sweeping and broad effects of asset forfeiture law stating that “it has become a monetary tail wagging the law enforcement dog.” Persons facing forfeiture allegations in federal court need the protection and guidance of experienced federal criminal defense counsel who truly understands both civil and criminal forfeiture and the various ways to defends to those actions.
Criminal forfeiture is charged in the Indictment alleging the underlying criminal conduct, and it is actually part of the criminal prosecution. It is a punitive action brought by the federal government seeking forfeiture of money or assets which the government contends represent the ill-gotten gains of the crime. If a defendant is convicted of the underlying crime in the indictment, a bifurcated trial before the same jury that heard the criminal case is conducted immediately thereafter to determine whether criminal forfeiture is appropriate, and if so, what dollar amount and assets are to be forfeited. Criminal forfeiture is an in personam action and is governed by a combination of statutes and rules including 18 U.S.C. §982, 21 U.S.C. §881 and Rule 32.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Administrative forfeiture is an in rem (against the property itself) action that permits the federal law enforcement agency (DEA, ATF, FBI, etc.) that makes the arrest or executes the search warrant to forfeit the property without judicial involvement. The authority permitting the seizing agency to start the administrative forfeiture action is found in the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. §1607 and various provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations. Property that can be administratively forfeited includes: illegally imported merchandise, a conveyance used to illegally import, transport or stores goods (i.e., a ship, plane, vehicle or building), any monetary instrument (i.e., cash), or any other property that does not exceed $500,000 in value. Administrative forfeiture actions can be resisted through various protocols but all avenues of remission are exceedingly time sensitive.
Civil forfeiture is also an in rem (against property) action brought in federal court against the action through a civil lawsuit filed by the government against the property itself. No criminal action is necessary. There are number of defenses with civil forfeiture actions, but again, all defenses are time sensitive. Civil forfeiture actions are governed by 21 U.S.C. §981 and 21 U.S.C. §881 and are partially controlled by 19 U.S.C. §1602.
Defending against the forfeiture is assets is an important part of any criminal case. Ms. Hodde is extremely experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of asset forfeiture and can provide exacting guidance in how best to preserve your assets and protect your future from aggressive government overreaching.
If you have questions regarding criminal, civil or administrative forfeiture, contact Hodde & Associates. Kimberly S. Hodde can be available for evening and weekend appointments. Ms. Hodde is mindful that you may not have budgeted for funding your defense; so, under some circumstances, she will work with defendants and/or their families on a reasonable payment plan. The firm is conveniently located in a free-standing building on Music Row, just one mile from the federal courthouse with abundant free parking. Contact us at 615-242-4200.