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Asset Forfeiture

When money or assets are obtained through illegal means, federal and state law enforcement authorities can confiscate those assets. However, in many cases the government pursues forfeiture of property when no crime has been charged. Many innocent Californians have been the victims of the government seizing money and property that it had no right to take. People who have not been arrested or convicted of a crime have had to forfeit their possessions to government agents. If your property has been seized, or you have been given notice of seizure, you need to contact a California asset forfeiture lawyer immediately. At the Law Offices of Khalaf & Khalaf, our experienced asset forfeiture attorneys have the knowledge and skills to oppose forfeiture and may be able to get all, or most, of your property back.

What is Asset Forfeiture?

Forfeiture is a procedure by which the federal or state government takes money and/or property away from someone who has allegedly obtained it illegally, or obtained it with the fruits of an illegal activity. California Penal Code Section 186 (called the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act) allows the government to seize any asset that might have been illegally used or obtained. This can include land, houses, boats, motor vehicles, jewelry, artwork, currency, bank accounts, antiques, computers, and nearly any other type of property. In addition to California law, there are over 100 forfeiture categories contained in federal laws, including those dealing with drug crimes, tax evasion, money laundering, forgery and pornography. Under most forfeiture laws, it is legal for the government to seize property from people who have not been charged with a crime and are innocent, as long as there is a connection between the confiscated property and commission or profits from a crime.

Types of Forfeiture

There are two common types of asset forfeiture proceedings:

  • Criminal forfeiture: This requires a criminal conviction and that the assets or property had a sufficient relationship to the illegal activity. For example, the house of a person convicted of drug charges may be confiscated if it can be shown that it was purchased with illicit drug profits.
  • Civil forfeiture: These actions are taken against the assets and property itself, rather than against the owner of the assets or property. No criminal conviction is necessary and in many cases there are no criminal charges ever filed against the owner. The prosecutor must establish by merely a preponderance of the evidence that the property had a sufficient relationship to illegal activity.

Defenses to Asset Forfeiture

There are a number of defenses that can be used to challenge asset forfeiture. A few examples include the following:

  • A third-party “innocent owner” defense means that the proper owner did not know that the property was illegally obtained. For example, the owner of a rental property may not know that a tenant was conducting illegal activity on the property.
  • Proof that the property was purchased with legitimate funds
  • Proof that the value of the forfeited property is disproportionate to the crime
  • Proof that no crime was committed and therefore there is no basis for the forfeiture

California Asset Forfeiture Attorney

In forfeiture proceedings, it is crucial to respond immediately. In most situations, the time to respond is very short (usually 30 days), but you should never try to handle a forfeiture matter yourself since there are many technical mistakes that can be made by you or even an attorney not experienced with forfeiture cases. It is very important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney file a timely response that is thorough and precise. At the Law Offices of Khalaf & Khalaf, our California asset forfeiture lawyers have the skill, experience, and knowledge to challenge asset forfeiture and help you recovery your property. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

Khalaf & Khalaf
33 South Catalina Avenue
Suite 202
Pasadena, California 91106

Toll Free: (888) 700 - 0066
Office: (626) 486 - 0166
Fax: (626) 486 - 0218
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The Pasadena, CA law firm of Khalaf & Khalaf serves clients in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, & Orange County; and the citites of Torrance, San Fernando, Alhambra, Bellflower, Victorville, Long Beach, Burbank, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Moreno Valley, Glendale, South Pasadena, Alta Dena, Santa Clarita and throughout Southern California.