man being searched by police

How to Protect Yourself from Civil Forfeiture

In New Jersey, law enforcement is permitted to seize property that is related to or derived from a crime. Civil forfeiture is common in drug crime cases, weapons crime cases, racketeering cases, and white-collar crime cases. Property subject to civil forfeiture in New Jersey includes:

  • Homes
  • Vehicles
  • Financial Accounts
  • Businesses

When the government wins in a civil forfeiture case, it is permitted by law to keep the property in question. However, law enforcement must first provide notice of the seizure and prove that the property has some connection to criminal activity, so it is imperative that property owners contest civil forfeiture to avoid losing their property. Property owners who fail to properly respond to a civil forfeiture claim stand to lose their property without even having an opportunity to contest the forfeiture. 

Protecting Yourself from Civil Forfeiture

Once the authorities have seized your property, the first thing you should do is hire a New Jersey civil forfeiture attorney. Depending on your situation, you may have several defenses to civil forfeiture, any of which may result in the return of your property. Remember, by doing nothing, you are virtually guaranteed to lose your property. However, when you contact an experienced New Jersey civil forfeiture attorney, you give yourself a fighting chance to retrieve your property. Hiring a New Jersey civil forfeiture attorney is the best way to protect yourself from civil forfeiture. Common defenses to civil forfeiture include: 

  • Procedural defense: the government has a certain amount of time within which to file and serve notice of a civil forfeiture action.  These time frames are often absolute and may provide a defense to a forfeiture action right out of the gate.
  • The proportionality defense: The proportionality defense against civil forfeiture requires your civil forfeiture attorney to demonstrate that the value of the seized property is disproportionate to the crime or offense with which you’ve been charged.
  • Illegal search and seizure defense: Law enforcement officers sometimes go beyond their authority when conducting searches and seizing property. If you can successfully demonstrate that the police illegally seized your property in violation of your constitutional rights, there is a good chance that the court will return your seized property. 
  • The innocent owner defense: The innocent owner defense against civil forfeiture requires your civil forfeiture attorney to prove that you weren’t involved in or aware of the alleged crime that resulted in the seizure of your property.

Fighting civil forfeiture can be an uphill battle. Therefore, if your property has been seized by the police, the sooner you contact an experienced civil forfeiture defense attorney, the better. 

Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Civil Forfeiture Attorney 

At Rosenblatt Law, we don’t believe that citizens should be deprived of their property rights through the process of civil forfeiture. Therefore, when you come to us for help with your civil forfeiture case, our aggressive and experienced civil forfeiture attorneys will use our vast legal knowledge and experience to protect your property rights. If you are a victim of civil forfeiture and want to fight back, please contact us as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.