New York Asset Forfeiture Defense Attorneys
Criminal penalties extend beyond incarceration and fines. If a defendant benefited financially from a crime, prosecutors in New York State have the authority to pursue “forfeiture,” which requires defendants to surrender the “proceeds” and the “instrumentalities” of crimes. Identifying which assets are the proceeds of criminal activity can be a difficult and complex procedure, and not all assets are subject to forfeiture.
The criminal defense attorneys at Dupée & Monroe have spent years defending New Yorkers accused of all manner of federal and state crimes, and we have successfully prevented many clients from losing their property in a criminal case. If you or a loved one has been arrested in the Hudson Valley, Dupée & Monroe is ready to come to your defense. Below, we provide an overview of criminal asset forfeiture in New York.
What Property is Subject to Forfeiture?
Prosecutors can seek forfeiture of both the “proceeds” and the “instrumentalities” of criminal activity. “Proceeds” refers to any ill-gotten gains that resulted from criminal activity. Typically, proceeds include cash, bank accounts, real estate (depending on the crime), and personal property such as jewelry, cars, stocks, electronics, clothing, and other tangible property. Proceeds can include items purchased with the immediate spoils of a crime (e.g., a car purchased with money obtained in a bank robbery).
Instrumentalities are any objects used to further the crime or make the crime easier to commit. Often, these will be collected as evidence. Instrumentalities of crimes can include vehicles, currency, real estate, or other personal property.
Not all of your property and accounts are subject to forfeiture, even if you are convicted of a crime. The government must demonstrate that the property is actually connected to the crime or the proceeds of the crime. The government often tries to make loose connections between some financial benefit and defendants later acquiring property or putting money into an account. A savvy criminal defense and asset forfeiture attorney can help you protect property that is rightfully and legally yours, even if you face a criminal conviction.
Civil vs. Criminal Forfeiture
There are two types of asset forfeiture that the government may be empowered to pursue: civil and criminal. Both involve repossessing assets from defendants accused of crimes, but the mechanisms and standards of proof for each differ.
Criminal asset forfeiture is largely uncontroversial: Proceeds of a crime can be forfeited following a criminal conviction. Criminal asset forfeiture occurs as part of the sentencing phase of a criminal case after a defendant has been found guilty, and only property that is directly related to the crime can be seized. The forfeiture is pursued against the individual convicted, as opposed to against the property itself. Avoiding conviction prevents the government from taking your property.
Civil asset forfeiture is much more problematic. New York Penal Code Section 1311 covers seizure of assets, while U.S. Code Section 983 governs civil forfeiture at the federal level. Civil asset forfeiture actions are brought separately from criminal proceedings and are brought against the property itself (called an “in rem” action). Instead of requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt, government attorneys need only establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime or was connected to the proceeds of a crime. Seizure, the taking of the assets, can occur well before a criminal conviction or even before charges are filed. The owner of the property then must fight to prove that they are innocent of the crime in order to get the property back.
Most civil forfeiture occurs in federal cases rather than state cases. Many government agencies, such as the IRS and the DEA, have the power to seize property via civil forfeiture. They often need only to demonstrate suspicious activity, such as claiming that a series of bank deposits under $10,000 were made to avoid reporting requirements, to freeze and seize assets.
If your assets have been subjected to civil forfeiture and you are not guilty of the crime, or if your assets were taken as part of a criminal conviction later overturned, you have the right to fight back and regain your unjustly seized property. The asset forfeiture attorneys at Dupée & Monroe are ready to help.
Protect Your Property and Your Freedom After Your New York Arrest
The criminal defense lawyers at Dupée & Monroe have decades of experience helping people like you protect assets from forfeiture and avoid the most serious consequences that can arise from any New York criminal conviction. If you have been arrested for a state or federal crime in Goshen, Orange County, or anywhere in the Hudson Valley region, reach out to Dupée & Monroe, P.C. at 845-294-8900 for immediate assistance from a team of experienced New York criminal defense attorneys.