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Forfeitures in Miami, Florida

Forfeitures are seizures of property or assets by the state or by federal law enforcement agencies related to, or alleged to be related to, a crime. Forfeitures, if not contested, could lead to loss of your property or other assets without compensation. Forfeitures are controversial as it has been suggested that they can take place without real justification, or the scale of the forfeiture is out of proportion to the severity of the crime, e.g. for a minor misdemeanor. Vehicle forfeitures are some of the most common forfeitures in Florida.

Forfeitures in Miami Florida

If you have received notification of a criminal forfeiture you only have a limited time to contest it. This is 15 days if it is a state forfeiture, or 10 days if it is a federal forfeiture. Losing your property or assets through a forfeiture is not inevitable and can be contested. Contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq., as soon as possible to fight to have your property returned.

The justification for asset forfeitures

In Florida, as in other states with similar forfeiture laws, the purpose of forfeitures is to prevent further crimes by removing or seizing the profits of a crime from the alleged offender. Examples of crimes which may lead to criminal forfeiture (as opposed to civil forfeitures which are becoming increasingly common in this state) include:

  • drug trafficking;

  • gambling;

  • theft;

  • fraud;

  • money laundering;

  • prostitution

Property or asserts that may be seized in a forfeiture:

  • anything that is used to commit a crime;

  • illegal drugs or weapons;

  • anything that has been acquired through a felony, including business accounts; houses and vehicles.

How you can contest forfeiture

There are many reasons why forfeiture is unjustified. However, you have little time after a Notice of Forfeiture before the seizure becomes permanent. It is vital that you contact a Miami criminal defense attorney as soon as you realize that your property or assets have been seized and you have received a Notice of Forfeiture. As long as you file a request for an adverse preliminary hearing within 15 days for a state forfeiture or within 10 days for a federal forfeiture you have a chance of having your property or assets returned if you can convince the hearing that the forfeiture was unjustified.

Defenses to Forfeiture

Forfeiture is not inevitable. There are many reasons why forfeiture can be proven to be disproportional to the crime committed, or completely unjustified. Typical reasons for contesting forfeiture include:

  • Whoever owned the property or assets seized did not have any knowledge of the alleged associated crime. For example, if your car was stolen and used for a bank robbery then seized, this would be an obvious example of an unjustified forfeiture.

  • The seizure is excessive and out of proportion to the alleged crime.

  • The officer who carried out the forfeiture did not have ‘probable cause’ to act.

Don’t delay if you receive a Notice of Forfeiture; Contact Albert Quirantes, Miami criminal defense attorney, as soon as possible at 305-644-1800.

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Albert M. Quirantes | Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Office