Jed has substantial experience representing individuals and companies who file civil and criminal forfeiture claims to re-claim their seized property. Forfeiture is a quasi-criminal remedy that allows the Government to confiscate property because it is tainted by criminal conduct.
Civil forfeiture is a lawsuit brought against property. It is frequently captioned: “United States v. $3,000 in U.S. Currency” etc.
- Individuals who have a financial stake in the litigation such as property owners may attempt to recover the property by filing a claim. These “standing” rules are very broad and even indirect financial interests may give rise to file a claim in the litigation.
- The civil forfeiture rules are arcane. Jed has experience with these rules and can advise clients about potential problems with the Government’s case.
Criminal Forfeiture and Restitution
Criminal forfeiture is charged as part of a criminal indictment. Defendants whose indictments include high-dollar forfeiture counts and restitution claims should consult a lawyer with expertise in this field.
- A defendant has a right to a jury trial on the forfeiture issues. Forfeiture can pose unique evidentiary concerns and a defendant may wish to challenge certain forfeiture issues during his criminal trial. Understanding these evidentiary considerations may give a defendant leverage during plea negotiations.
- After trial, the Government may pursue assets unrelated to the criminal activity known as substitute property.
Parties with an interest in property subject to criminal forfeiture may file an ancillary petition after the defendant’s sentencing. These property owners file their own claim which is pursued under the civil rules. The claims involve complex issues of state property law and asset tracing.
Jed has experience working with attorneys in European and Caribbean countries on forfeiture issues. Law enforcement often works collaboratively with foreign governments. Defendants also need an attorney with similar international experience.
Federal law makes it a felony to engage in a financial transaction with proceeds of a specified unlawful activity. The money laundering statutes impose harsh penalties for those individuals who knowingly engage in transactions with “tainted” funds. However, money laundering prosecutions involve specific rules and additional burdens of proof on the Government.
Jed has advised clients on all these types of matters.