Criminal penalties are not the only thing to worry about when you are accused of a felony marijuana crime. Any property used to commit the crime may be subject to forfeiture by the state. Asset forfeiture is separate from a criminal case, and the state can seize your property before a judge convicts you.
In addition to a criminal case, you will be left to deal with civil proceedings for the seized property. This can be daunting to handle on your own and should never be done without the guidance of an experienced attorney.
Texas Asset Forfeiture Defense Attorney
David Sloane has over 20 years of experience defending Texans for marijuana crimes. With a background in crime scene analysis and criminal investigation, he is well prepared to handle your asset forfeiture case. Do not hesitate to get in touch with Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC. The sooner you do, the sooner David Sloane can get to work on your case.
David Sloane knows how important your property is to you. He will vigorously fight so you can keep what is rightfully yours. Call (817) 810-0088 to schedule a confidential consultation. Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC assist clients with asset forfeiture in Tarrant County, Dallas County, Gray County, Wheeler County, Armstrong County and many others.
- Asset Forfeiture in Texas
- Will My Cash Be Seized?
- What Happens If My Vehicle Is Seized?
- Can Forfeited Property be Returned?
- The Innocent Owner Defense
- Additional Resources
Asset Forfeiture in Texas
When you are arrested for a felony crime under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, any property used during the commission of the offense will be seized by the state. Property used to commit a crime is called contraband. Contraband can range from money earned from drug sales or land used to grow marijuana. Other examples of contraband subject to forfeiture include:
- Drug paraphernalia
- Cell phones
Asset forfeiture is not a criminal charge against you in and of itself. Instead, a civil case will be brought against the property. You have the right to an attorney during a civil case, but not a public defender. If your assets have been seized, it’s imperative you contact a private defense attorney to help get your property back.
Will My Cash Be Seized?
One of the primary responsibilities of law enforcement agencies is to investigate criminal activity. In the process of investigating, any evidence suspected to be linked to the crime will be seized by police.
When you think of evidence, weapons and fingerprints probably come to mind. But cash is a common piece of evidence often seized during a criminal investigation. If the police suspect you have money that was involved in marijuana-related crimes, they will take it.
Forfeiture of cash is intended to remove ill-gotten gains from suspected criminals and their co-conspirators. The problem is that a person may have their money seized without criminal charges ever being filed against them. This leaves many innocent people vulnerable to having their rightfully earned cash seized wrongfully by law enforcement.
Reporting by the Washington Post in 2014 showed more than $2.5 billion in cash seizures occurred between 2001 and 2014. This money was gathered across nearly 62,000 separate seizures of assets. These seizures were made without warrants or indictments under a program called the Equitable Sharing Program. Half of the cash assets forfeited were under $8,800.
Having your cash taken away when you’ve done nothing wrong can bring your life to a grinding halt. The attorneys at the Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC will fight to get your money back in your hands as soon as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What Happens If My Vehicle Is Seized?
Motor vehicles are among the most common methods for delivering marijuana and other controlled substances. Drug traffickers often hide their payload in secret compartments in and around the vehicle to avoid detection by the police.
The problems is vehicles are often used by multiple people. A relative could ask to borrow your old car for a weekend road trip that turns out to be a drug run. In the process of delivering a load of drugs, they’re arrested and the vehicle is seized as evidence. You had no knowledge of or involvement with their illegal activities, but now your vehicle is evidence in the hands of law enforcement. You could even have your car taken away from you if you’re caught in the middle of purchasing marijuana.
Unfortunately, it is perfectly legal for police to seize your property as evidence and hold it until it is no longer needed for the investigation. How long the police will hold the vehicle as evidence depends on the nature of the crime and how long the case takes to reach final disposition (or resolution).
An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your situation and advise how soon you can expect your vehicle to be returned. Contact Attorney David Sloane today for a free evaluation of your case.
Can Forfeited Property be Returned?
Certain assets can be returned while a case is ongoing, but certain conditions must be met. The Code of Criminal Procedures allows seized contraband to be returned through a bond equal to the property’s appraised value. There are two conditions to this bond, which include:
- The property must be returned the day of the forfeiture hearing
- You must comply with any decision by the court regarding the forfeiture of assets.
Not every seized asset is eligible to be released on bond. Contraband ineligible for temporary return in drug cases includes money and property held as evidence in a criminal investigation. If you are in need of the seized property while the case is pending, contact Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC immediately.
All seized property will be returned if you are found not guilty in the criminal case, or the case is dismissed.
The Innocent Owner Defense
A criminal conviction is not required for the state to seize assets. In addition to this, prosecutors are not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the seized property is contraband. This makes it difficult to defend asset forfeiture, but this doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
Texas law allows for the innocent owner defense. To have seized property returned under this defense, you will be required to prove the following:
- The property was acquired before or during the alleged crime, but you were not aware or did not have reason to believe a crime was taking place.
- The property was acquired after a crime took place, but before law enforcement seized the property and there was no reason to believe the property was contraband.
This can be difficult to prove. But with the help of a skilled defense attorney, it doesn’t have to be. Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC will shed light on the facts of your case and do everything in its power to help get your property back.
Increased Cash Seizures at the Airport During COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed our lives in a multitude of ways and unfortunately it has even affected our rights while we travel. In the year 2020, it was reported by Homeland Security that more than $2 billion were taken from travelers at the nation’s airports by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and other agencies during the years 2000 – 2016. However, with the rise of COVID-19 it seems cash seizures at the airport have increased even further.
Civil forfeiture laws state if you are traveling in the United States there is no legal limit to the amount of currency you can carry at any given time. Although, if you carry a large amount of currency, then state or federal agents may try and seize the cash during a traffic stop on the roadway, bus station, at the port of entry, train station, or airport. They are particularly common during the screening process at the security checkpoint before boarding.
Federal law does indicate that travelers who carry more than $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments must report this to a CBP officer and complete a U.S. Treasury Department Financial Form. If the money isn’t returned, then the state forfeiture funds will be shared with local law enforcement agencies as funds for their agency. As you can see, this creates quite an incentive for law enforcement to seize currency from people at the airport.
Additional Resources for Asset Forfeiture
Forfeiture of Contraband | Texas Code of Criminal Procedures – Read through the chapter of the Code of Criminal Procedures to learn more about asset forfeiture. You can read the legal definition of contraband, find out about other crimes subject to asset forfeiture and the proceedings for property removed from the state.
Texas Controlled Substance Act – Follow the link to read through the act governing drug crimes in Texas. You can find a list of felony drug crimes subject to asset forfeiture and see which drugs fall into which penalty groups. The act can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Homeland Security Has Seized 2 Billion from Travelers | Washington Post – Visit the official website for the Washington Post to learn more about how homeland security has seized billions from American travelers. Access the news article to learn what happens to the money, why it has increased during COVID-19, and other related information.
Texas Asset Forfeiture Defense Lawyer
Having your property seized adds more stress to an already stressful situation. On top of a criminal case, you are now faced with a case in civil court. Cases involving asset forfeiture should never be handled without the guidance of experienced legal counsel.
David Sloane is a highly experienced defense attorney. He has assisted many clients with asset forfeiture and wants to do the same for you. Schedule a confidential consultation with Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC. Call (817) 810-0088.
Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC assists clients in Tarrant County, Dallas County, Donley County, Clay County, Wichita County, Wise County and many others.