If you are convicted of a federal offense, it is likely you will receive a prison sentence. But along with this, you may also find yourself having to forfeit assets and property to the government, a process known as federal criminal forfeiture. This can include not only property and assets used to commit a crime, but also any property or assets derived from criminal activity. If you find yourself facing this situation, it will be crucial you hire a criminal defense lawyer to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Criminal vs. Civil Forfeiture
Along with criminal forfeiture, there is also civil forfeiture. However, they differ in that criminal forfeiture requires a conviction before the government is allowed to seize any property or assets. In most cases, criminal forfeiture involves convictions pertaining to drug dealers, white-collar crime, terrorist activity, and organized crime.
Criminal Forfeiture Crimes
As federal prosecutors and lawmakers began to find it necessary to have additional punishments for serious crimes, two pieces of federal legislation were created to make this happen. These were the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Because of these two pieces of legislation, crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, obscenity crimes, and violations of the Patriot Act can now be dealt with by criminal forfeiture.
Penalties On Other Parties
If you are convicted of these or other similar crimes, you may not be the only one being penalized for your actions. For example, if you are convicted of a federal crime involving the above-mentioned activities, your spouse, other family members, or even business partners may be seeing any assets or property in which they have an interest being seized by the government. As a result, not only can you lose your business, but your family could potentially lose their home, financial assets, and other property as well. With regards to criminal forfeiture, not even Homestead laws that normally shield a home from creditors will apply.
Due to the severe consequences that can result from federal criminal forfeiture, it is crucial you have your legal rights protected from start to finish. For the federal government to seize your property and assets, it must follow very specific steps. Therefore, by hiring an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer for your case, you can be assured your rights will be protected as your case plays out.