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Utah Defense Attorneys Assist Clients in Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Cases

Skilled lawyers help defendants in the Salt Lake City area recover their property

Forfeiture is the government seizure of property connected to illegal activity. Law enforcement has asserted that it is a necessary and effective deterrent to drug crime, while opponents argue that existing procedural safeguards result in too many innocent parties having their property taken away, with little or no recourse for recovery. If your property or assets have been the subject of criminal or civil forfeiture, it is important to consult with an experienced forfeiture defense attorney to understand your rights and options. Drawing on vast experience, the attorneys at Jon D. Williams, P.C. defend clients in criminal and civil forfeiture cases in the Salt Lake City area and throughout Utah. It’s important to know you have legal recourse when your property has been seized by the government. We will uphold your rights and press for a favorable resolution.

Knowledgeable advocates advise on property that can be seized in forfeiture actions

Government authority to seize property connected to illegal activity comes from federal statutes, as limited by those laws and the Constitution. Authorizing provisions of state and local statutes tend to be similar to federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court identified certain categories of property subject to forfeiture:

  • Contraband — Property for which ownership itself is a crime (e.g., illegal drugs, smuggled goods)
  • Proceeds from illegal activity — Property that results from, or can be traced back to, illegal activity
  • Tools or instrumentalities used in the commission of crime — Property used to commit a crime (e.g., cars, boats, real estate)

When you lose property to forfeiture, the process to have those assets restored can be complex and frustrating. When defending clients in these cases, we will work to achieve the best resolution under the facts.

Proven defense attorneys seek restoration of property in criminal and civil cases

The government can take title to private property under criminal or civil law.

Criminal forfeiture is a punitive measure taken against a defendant after a conviction, where the government seizes property as a part of the sentence. Because it is a criminal proceeding, a defendant is afforded the protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. While the crime has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the forfeiture requires a lower burden of proof. The government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant obtained the property around the time of the crime and that it was unlikely it came from any other source. The burden then shifts to the defendant to prove this is not the case. We will determine the strongest defense strategy to achieve an optimal result in your criminal forfeiture case.

By contrast, civil forfeiture actions proceed against the property itself, which is the defendant in the case rather than the owner. A criminal charge or conviction is not necessary before the government can seize. A large majority of the forfeitures pursued by the government are civil. Our experience defending clients in civil cases offers you an advantage when you’ve been penalized by a forfeiture action.

Call experienced Utah defense attorneys if your property has been forfeited

Whether your property has been the subject of a criminal or a civil forfeiture, Jon D. Williams, P.C. can advise you of your legal options for recovery by defending against government actions. Call a knowledgeable forfeiture defense attorney in Salt Lake City at 801-746-1460 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.