Chicago Criminal Lawyer
If convicted of a federal crime, you may face time in prison along with fines and other penalties. In addition to pursuing criminal action against you, the federal government may also choose to penalize you by seizing any assets or property that were obtained as a result of illegal activity.
Asset forfeiture is a civil matter and the government may choose to seize your assets in conjunction with or independently of a criminal trial. If you’re facing asset forfeiture in connection with a federal crime or your home, bank accounts or other assets have already been seized, you must act quickly to secure the services of a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney.
What assets can be seized through forfeiture?
The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for enforcing asset forfeiture orders issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Under DOJ guidelines, there is a wide array of property and assets that may be seized and these assets typically fall into three primary categories.
- Contraband property – Contraband refers to products or goods that are illegal to import, export or otherwise possess. In terms of federal asset forfeiture, the U.S. Marshals may seize illegal firearms or other weapons, drugs or other items that have been smuggled into the country illegally.
- Proceeds from the crime – Federal law enforcement officials may also take action to seize assets or property that was acquired as a result of a criminal act. For example, your bank account can be seized if the government believes the funds were generated through money laundering, embezzlement or illegal gambling.
- Property used to commit the crime – Finally, any property or item that was used to perpetuate a criminal act may also be subject to asset forfeiture. This may include cars, boats, airplanes, homes, computer equipment, cell phones, etc.
It’s important to note that when the federal government initiates an asset forfeiture, the claim is made against the property itself, rather than its actual owner. This means that if you own a car, home or other property that was used to commit a crime, this property can be seized, regardless of whether you were aware of the crime or participated in its commission. The federal government bears the responsibility of showing probable cause to support the forfeiture claim. You must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property or asset in question is not connected to any criminal act in order to retain your ownership of it.
If You’ve Been Served With an Asset Forfeiture Notice
If you receive a notice from the government in regards to the seizure of your assets or property, it’s critical that you contact a qualified Federal Asset Forfeiture Defense Attorney as quickly as possible to protect your rights. If you fail to respond to a federal asset seizure notice, you effectively default on your right to the asset in question meaning it automatically becomes the property of the federal government.
Based in Chicago, Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Schmiege provides expert representation to individuals in Illinois and throughout the United States who find themselves subject to federal asset forfeiture. He specializes in handling forfeiture claims stemming from criminal cases involving:
- Drug trafficking and possession
- White-collar crimes
- Money laundering
- Insider trading
- Other federal offenses
As your Chicago criminal defense attorney, Michael Schmiege will work aggressively on your behalf to challenge the asset forfeiture order while also defending you against any criminal charges you may be facing. If you’re at risk of losing your property or assets in connection with a federal civil proceeding, call (312) 906-7800 to schedule your free initial case evaluation with a Chicago criminal attorney who is committed to fighting for your rights.