Understanding Florida’s Asset Forfeiture Law and Criminal Cases

Suppose a person possesses property tied to illegal activity, such as property to commit crimes or vehicles to transport narcotics or stolen goods? In that case, they may face civil or criminal asset forfeiture.

Unlike Federal law and the laws of other states, Florida does not have criminal forfeiture. Florida only has civil asset forfeiture. However, despite being brought in civil court instead of criminal court, civil asset forfeiture in Florida has a criminal burden of proof: Beyond a reasonable doubt.

Floridians under investigation for criminal activity face fines and potentially being incarcerated and should be aware of state and federal asset forfeiture laws. Even without a conviction, an arrest can harm a person’s ability to secure housing and employment, and they may face the loss of personal property under asset forfeiture laws.

In Florida, law enforcement seizes thousands of assets each year. The residents of Florida must be familiar with asset forfeiture and relevant laws.

What are the Grounds for Forfeiture?

A person who possesses property tied to illegal activity, including items purchased with profits from white-collar crimes, may face civil asset forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture can only be conducted if a person is convicted of a crime. Florida has civil forfeiture, which is an action against the property, not the owner. Civil forfeiture is not contingent upon a conviction and is has a lower standard of proof.

What Types of Property is Subject to Forfeiture?

Property that is subject to forfeiture include:

  • Illegal drugs and weapons;
  • Objects used to commit crimes;
  • Proceeds derived from criminal activity;
  • Vehicle forfeiture if the vehicle was used to transport narcotics, purchased with proceeds from an illegal act, or used during a felony or robbery;
  • Money, currency;
  • Drugs or paraphernalia;
  • Firearms.

How Can I Defend Myself During a Seizure for Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Defenses to forfeiture actions can include the following:

  1. The actual owner of the property did not know about the criminal activity
  2. The forfeiture is disproportionate to the crime alleged.
  3. The law enforcement officer that seized the property was without probable cause.

Florida is one of eighteen states that permits criminal forfeiture of assets. Florida criminal forfeiture laws attempt to deter several crimes, including:

  1. Money Laundering;
  2. Drug trafficking;
  3. Gambling;
  4. Prostitution; and
  5. Theft or Fraud

Ronald Chapman

If you have been accused of a crime and are facing civil asset forfeiture, contact attorney Ronald Chapman to discuss your case and see how I might be able to help you. It is essential to have an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney by your side in court.

Defense Attorney West Palm Beach

Ronald Chapman practices criminal defense in both State and Federal Courts within the State of Florida. Since 1990, Mr. Chapman has been representing people accused of committing various types of crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, Ronald Chapman can help. Schedule your FREE Consultation! Call (561) 832-4348 or visit his website.

Visit us at https://www.justiceflorida.com/ You can also connect with the West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Office online today! Ronald Chapman, an experienced criminal defense lawyer dedicated to defending your rights. Contact him today to begin to discuss your case.

Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis Street, Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
561-832-4348

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