Civil Forfeiture

Defending Clients Nationwide Against Asset Seizures

Civil forfeiture is widely used by federal law enforcement agencies to seize property alleged to be either an instrumentality or the proceeds of criminal activity. Because civil forfeiture proceedings are in theory brought against property, rather than against individuals, they occur separately from criminal proceedings and are not dependent upon findings of criminal guilt. Some states have recently enacted legislation requiring a criminal conviction.

At David B. Smith, PLLC, based in Alexandria, Virginia, our civil forfeiture lawyers both represent individual clients and advise other attorneys and law firms nationwide in these matters. Our firm is led by attorney David B. Smith, a nationally recognized authority on asset forfeiture law. Mr. Smith is the author of the leading two-volume treatise, Prosecution and Defense of Forfeiture Cases (2016), published by Matthew Bender.

Taking Action to Protect Our Clients’ Property Rights

Under federal civil forfeiture laws, the government may seize property if there is probable cause to believe it is forfeitable. In most cases, the government is able to initiate administrative forfeiture proceedings against that property by sending a Notice of Seizure to interested parties. If no one files a claim within 30 days, the property will be forfeited without a court proceeding. In some types of cases, the government cannot proceed administratively and must commence a civil lawsuit in federal district court. Parties who have been administratively notified that their assets are subject to forfeiture may pursue either or both of the following actions to regain their property, including:

It is important to consult with an experienced attorney on the potential consequences of contesting a forfeiture, including the possibility of implicating oneself in a crime or incurring unwanted IRS scrutiny.

Our attorneys have an established reputation in the area of civil forfeiture law. Mr. Smith was heavily involved in drafting of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, the only major reform of this nation’s civil forfeiture laws in over 200 years, and he continues to provide expert advice to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in the area of forfeiture law.

To discuss how we can assist you or your client with a civil forfeiture matter, please contact our firm today.

David Smith is featured in this Institute for Justice video regarding the dangers of civil forfeiture abuse. He appears beginning at 1:55.