Monday, August 29, 2011

Forfeiture and Seized Assets

One of the more controversial aspects of law is asset forfeiture. When an asset is alleged to have been used in the commission of a crime, or to be proceeds of a crime, the state is allowed to seize it.

This makes sense when you consider the idea of someone indicted for bank robbery mounting a big defense, using the proceeds of that same bank robbery to cover legal fees and other expenses.

Of course, it cannot be conclusively said that the funds are from the bank robbery. After all, the accused bank robber has only been charged; a fair trial must take place and a guilty verdict rendered before they are convicted.

Forfeiture is intended to prevent assets from being used before a verdict is returned. In addition, forfeiture can also work to prevent assets that might be viewed as evidence from being destroyed. As we will see, a variety of things can happen to forfeited property.

Says Tampa police spokeswoman, Laura McElroy, "You don't need to file a criminal charge to seize a vehicle; you just need to believe it was used in criminal activity or was bought with proceeds of criminal activity." -

The above quote is from an article about a seized Yukon Denali that became the Mayor of Tampa's city vehicle. As is the case with many jobs, the mayor was entitled to an automobile. To save the city money, he decided to pick his car from the police department's forfeiture fleet instead of getting a new one.

One interesting detail is that the truck used to belong to a man named Charles "Boogy" Melvin Fox, who is charged with pimping among other things. The truck had flashy chrome rims that would spin, but they were replaced with stock rims before the mayor began to drive it.

Although the accused pimp did not challenge the seizure of his Yukon Denali and "spinners", he, like anyone else in his position, had the option to. Peter J. Scuderi is a Philadelphia Forfeiture Lawyer that has challenged forfeiture actions on behalf of his clients.

Forfeiture is especially controversial when the state seizes assets that are relied upon by their owners to earn a living. Property owners who have had their assets falsely seized are themselves victims of the crime. For this reason, it is often advisable to hire an attorney to have this type of matter sorted out in a quick manner.

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