Dallas Civil Forfeiture Lawyers
What Is Civil Forfeiture?
Texas's civil asset forfeiture statute allows law enforcement officials to take and potentially keep property they believe was used or intended to be used to commit a crime or if the police believe the property was purchases with money gained from illegal activity. Such seizure and forfeiture can happen regardless of whether the property owner was charged with or convicted of the alleged offense. Sometimes the police seize money without making an arrest. This civil asset forfeiture law is designed to take away property that is connected to illegal activity. Unfortunately, the law can also deprive innocent people of their property, meaning even if a person was not involved in criminal conduct, they could lose their property forever.
Fortunately, those whose property was seized by law enforcement officials can fight to get it back, and they have the right to have an attorney on their side throughout the process. The legal team at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. is the right legal team to represent you to challenge the State's claim that your property was used to commit a crime or was a fruit of criminal activity. Our Dallas civil forfeiture attorneys are ready to protect your rights fight to get your seized cash, jewelry, and vehicles back for the hands of the police and the District Attorneys.
Attorney Scott Palmer was asked to comment on a recent event that happened at the Dallas Airport, where a women's luggage was seized because it was found that she was caring more than $100,000 in cash. To see the full story watch here.
Civil Asset Forfeiture Texas - What Can Be Forfeited & Seized?
Under Texas law, any property considered to be contraband is subject to seizure and forfeiture. Contraband is defined as "real, personal, tangible, or intangible property" used to commit or fruits of several offenses outlined in the Texas Penal Code.
It's important to note that the police do not always need a warrant to seize property they believe is contraband.
A warrantless seizure can take place when:
- The owner consents to such action,
- The owner consents to a search,
- The State previously received a judgment in its favor to forfeit the property, or
- The property was seized incident to a lawful arrest
Police Seizure of Property in Texas
After a police officer has seized property, the State has 30 days to file a lawsuit. The civil action is not taken against the property owner but rather the property itself.
The property owner will be served with the lawsuit petition. This means that they will receive notice of the intent to seize the property. They must file an answer within a specified time to challenge the forfeiture. Although filing an answer is not difficult, it is best accomplished by an experienced Dallas civil forfeiture attorney. A failure to file an answer can result in the property automatically being turned over to the State.
If the property owner answers, then a civil trial will commence. During this proceeding, the State must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used or intended to be used for a crime or was the “proceeds of a crime.” "A preponderance of the evidence" means that it's more likely than not that the property is contraband.
The property owner can fight back against the forfeiture by raising various defenses.
At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Dallas civil forfeiture lawyers can review your case to determine what defenses can be used to challenge the forfeiture. But we can also use the Rules of Civil Procedure to challenge the state.
What's Seizure and What's Forfeiture?
Seizure and forfeiture are not the same.
Seizure is when a police officer initially takes the property.
Forfeiture is when a court decides that the assets were contraband. It means that the government gets to keep the property.
Contact Our Dallas Civil Asset Forfeiture Today
Sadly, not many people are aware that they could permanently lose their property if it's alleged to be part of a crime. At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., we work hard to ensure property rights are protected and individuals are not unlawfully subject to the loss of their assets. Our Dallas civil forfeiture attorneys take on these cases for only a percentage of the assets recovered.