Legal Advocacy for Those Subjected to Criminal Forfeiture in Tennessee
Professional representation when the government unlawfully takes your property in and around Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge
Criminal forfeiture is the seizure of assets by the government when the government thinks those assets were part of some criminal activity. Federal and state governments each have the right to seize property related to crimes. The primary purpose of the seizure is to prevent those assets from being used for any future activity. A secondary goal is to make sure nobody profits from criminal actions. Common assets that are seized include guns, cars, cash, computers, businesses, and residences. A Sevierville criminal forfeiture lawyer defends your rights when your property has been seized.
Delius & McKenzie, PLLC in Sevierville understands that the government does not have carte blanche to seize any assets. The assets must reasonably relate to criminal activity. The government must comply with relevant laws, including the US Constitution, federal, and state laws. The owners of the property do have the right to contest the seizure. Our Sevierville criminal forfeiture lawyers understand when, how, and why property owners can contest a criminal forfeiture. We have been representing criminal defendants in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge and throughout East Tennessee for over twenty years.
Criminal forfeiture features
Criminal forfeiture is the taking of real property or personal property by the federal or state government. The right to take the property is typically set forth in the criminal statute. For example, the RICO statute 18 U.S. Code § 1963, as amended, authorizes what kind of racketeering-related property can be seized and how. The common element in criminal forfeitures is that the property must be directly related to some criminal activity or must be obtained through criminal actions, such as receiving stolen property. Additional elements a Sevierville criminal forfeiture lawyers reviews are:
- When the property can be seized. Criminal forfeiture often occurs after a defendant has been convicted of a crime. But, this is not always the case. Seizures can also occur after an arrest, after an indictment, or when there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. An acquittal is no guarantee that the property will be returned.
- How the seizure can be contested. The owner of the property does have a right to a hearing to contest the seizure. There are time limits that must be met, or the right to the property will be lost. There are procedures that must be followed, or the property will never be returned. An experienced Sevierville criminal forfeiture attorney is needed to make sure the owner’s right to the property is properly asserted.
- What happens to the seized property? Property that is forfeited can be kept by the government. It can also be sold. Selling assets is a major way that governments generate income. The sale price does not get returned to the owner. The government keeps it. Additionally, if the property is subject to a mortgage or a loan, the owner may still have to pay the balance due.
Crimes in which criminal forfeiture is often an issue
Some federal and state crimes are used by prosecutors to seize property on a regular basis. The more typical crimes that lead to a criminal forfeiture are:
- Drunk driving. Vehicles of drunk drivers are often seized to make sure the driver does not drive again while intoxicated. On completion of the sentence and an alcohol treatment program, there may be a possibility of getting the vehicle back. Tennessee’s drunk driving laws include the right to seize vehicles when a second or subsequent drunk driving offense happens.
- Drug laws. Both federal and state laws allow the government to seize the drugs, the drug paraphernalia used to make the drugs, and the profits from the sale of the narcotics. Cars used to transport the drugs and homes used to manufacture the drugs can also be seized.
- RICO law. The government wants to do everything it can to break up organized crime as well as stop the crimes from happening. It will seize almost anything it can justifiably argue relates to the criminal activity or to the organization including cash, homes, businesses, and more.
If your property has been seized, our Tennessee attorneys may be able to help
Delius & McKenzie, PLLC offers aggressive representation to clients whose assets are seized by the state or federal government in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, or Pigeon Forge. We fight hard to have your charges dropped or reduced when dropping them is not possible. To make an appointment with an experienced Sevierville criminal forfeiture defense lawyer, please call 865.280.3686 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our team offers in-custody visits.