WHAT IS ASSET FORFEITURE?
Definition: Asset forfeiture is a seizure of money or property by the state (or federal government) based on the allegation that the property is derived from or used to fund criminal activity.
Example: The government may seize a car, jointly owned by a husband and wife, because the government alleges that particular vehicle was used to solicit a prostitute.
WHAT CAN BE SEIZED?
The Government can seize ANY ASSET that it can reasonably assert is the product of, or presently used for ongoing criminal activity. This is an especially troubling problem for California Medical Marijuana business owners because of their inability to transact business in a medium other than cash.
Because Marijuana is stil illegal under federal law, California medical marijuana businesses face a number of different types of threats related to asset forfeiture. For example
The United States Attorney's Office sent letters to the landlord's of San Diego medical marijuana business owners, threatening them with asset forfeiture unless the landlord evicted their medical marijuana business tenants.
Medical marijuana businesses must deal with lots of cash - as merchant processing companies and banks refuse to do business with organizations selling a product that is illegal under federal law. Law enforcement can use asset forfeiture laws to seize even a few thousand dolalrs.
If you own a medical marijuana business, then your personal home, car, and any money in your bank account could be seized at any moment by zealous law enforcement.
Despite President Obama's directive to federal law enforcement to de-prioritize the enforcement of marijuana laws, DEA agents continue to harrass and intimidate lawfully abiding citizens.
HOW TO GET YOUR PROPERTY BACK AFTER ASSET FORFEITURE
Here is the rub - asset forfeiture requires that a person bring a civil action against the asset seized - simply put you must sue your own property in order to get it back! If that sounds ridiculous, don't worry, it is. In order to successfully sue for the return of your property you need an experienced criminal defense attorney or civil litigator.
You have less than a month from the date of the seizure to bring your suit or you risk forfeiting the asset. Because this is a civil action you are not entitled to a lawyer. The government is able to get away with many unlawful seizures of property simply because people cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them to get their property back.
If your assets have been seized, then you need to find an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney immediately. This is not a sales pitch, this is a necessity. We are happy to work with you on payment plans and contingency fee options because we understand the power of the government to destroy lives and we want to help. A satisfied client is our number one priority.
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