An Annapolis Criminal Forfeiture Lawyer Can Help You Recover Improperly Seized Items

Tough advocacy when your possessions are seized by the government

The government frequently tries to seize all profits from a crime and any items that were used, directly or indirectly, to help the in the commission of a crime. The government has to follow state and federal rules. The owners of the property do have some rights to due process, including being informed of the seizure and the right to contest the seizure. Some of the items often seized include drug paraphernalia, counterfeit plates, weapons, and narcotics. Homes, cars, and cash may also be seized.

Whether your property was taken as a result of a criminal or civil process, as an experienced Annapolis criminal forfeiture attorney, Gill Andrew Cochran can help. I understand the state and federal forfeiture laws, what rights owners have to get their property back, and which forums to use to contest the seizures. Trust Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law with your case.

Types of forfeitures

Forfeiture is a long-standing procedure that allows the government to seize assets so that future crimes cannot be committed. The items that are seized are usually sold, except for illegal items such as narcotics and the money kept by the government. So forfeiture law is more than just a preventative measure — it is a source of income for the state. Assets that are often seized include:

  • Cars, boats, planes, trucks, and other vehicles
  • Bank accounts and cash
  • Houses and investment properties

A criminal forfeiture follows any conviction of a state or federal crime. The seizure is meant to punish the person who commits the crime.

A civil forfeiture is often more sweeping and does not require a conviction. It generally requires just probable cause that the property was either used in a crime or was part of the profit of the crime. Civil forfeiture actions are technically brought against the property instead of the owner or defendant.

Because civil forfeitures have less strict standards, the US Department of Justice and the state of Maryland often use civil forfeiture to confiscate assets. This is especially true in drug cases and is often initiated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Some of the ways forfeitures can be challenged

The easiest way to defeat the possibility of a criminal forfeiture is to win the underlying criminal case. As an experienced attorney, I have helped many Maryland defendants obtain not-guilty verdicts or dismissals throughout the state.

In civil cases, the government does not have to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It only has to prove that it is more likely than not that the items seized were related to criminal activity. In drug cases, there is a presumption that the property was seized correctly and the burden is on the owner of the property to prove otherwise. Until there is a decision in the owner’s favor, the government keeps the property. The civil process in forfeiture cases is similar to other civil proceedings — there are depositions, motions, and at the end there is usually a trial.

There is also a danger in a civil case that the person seeking the goods could be charged with some form of criminal violation. An experienced Annapolis criminal forfeiture attorney can help guide you through this dangerous process, including advising you about the risks of testifying under oath.

Get professional help from a skilled Annapolis criminal defense lawyer

Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law understands the defenses that apply in seizure cases. I may argue that someone else is the owner. I may be able to show a conflict of interest. I may work to show that there are not sufficient grounds for asserting that a crime has been committed. You should know that time is crucial. There are time limits, and delay can mean an inability to speak to witnesses. For help with your criminal or civil forfeiture, please call me at 410-777-8103 or complete my contact form.

And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.