Supreme Court to Address Due Process in Civil Asset Forfeiture Cases

 Posted on September 27,2023 in U.S. Supreme Court

Untitled---2023-09-27T123423.765.jpgCivil asset forfeiture is a practice that is commonly used by law enforcement to confiscate the property of criminal suspects. Police officers and other law enforcement officials at the local, state, and federal levels may seize money, vehicles, or other assets that they believe are connected to criminal activity. This can put people in a difficult position as they attempt to recover their property. In some cases, people who are never charged with crimes or who have not engaged in any criminal activity must wait months or years before their cases can be resolved.

As criminal justice advocates continue to work to address the issue of asset forfeiture, they are seeking to ensure that people’s rights to due process are protected in these cases. The United States Supreme Court is currently considering a case involving civil asset forfeiture, and its decision may determine what rights apply to people in these situations. Regardless of the outcome of this case, those who are looking to recover money or property that has been confiscated by law enforcement can work with an experienced attorney to determine the best ways to recover their assets and protect their rights.

Culley v. Attorney General of Alabama and Due Process Rights

According to the Institute for Justice, billions of dollars in assets are confiscated by law enforcement officials every year throughout the United States. In 2018, around $3 billion was seized by officials in 42 states and the District of Columbia, as well as officials working for the federal Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury. 

In most states, law enforcement agencies are able to keep the majority of the assets that are confiscated. Because of this, they have the incentive to make it more difficult for people to recover money or property that has been seized. They may do so by forcing people to follow complex legal procedures or pay large fees, and in many cases, they will delay legal proceedings for long periods of time. For people who are in difficult financial situations, this can create barriers that make it difficult or impossible to protect their rights and recover assets that were wrongfully taken.

The U.S. Supreme Court will address this issue in the case of Culley v. Attorney General of Alabama. This case will look at whether people have the right to prompt legal proceedings when contesting asset forfeiture and seeking to recover their assets. Specifically, the court will address how the 14th Amendment’s right to due process before people can be deprived of their property applies in civil asset forfeiture cases.

This case addresses two separate instances in which vehicles were seized by police officers. In one, a woman’s car was confiscated after her son was pulled over and arrested for possession of marijuana. In the other, police seized a woman’s car after she lent it to a friend who was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Under Alabama’s “innocent owner” laws, property owners have the right to recover their assets if they can prove that they did not commit the offenses that led to the confiscation of property. However, in both cases, the owners had to wait for more than a year until hearings could be held to determine whether they were entitled to the return of their property.

People who are charged with crimes have the right to a speedy trial. After an arrest, they must be informed of the charges against them and given the opportunity to enter a plea, and they will typically be able to post bail and be released from custody while their case is ongoing. The Supreme Court will look at whether similar rights will apply for people whose assets have been seized. If the court rules that people have the right to prompt hearings to address asset forfeiture, this may help prevent unnecessary delays and other difficulties for those who are seeking to recover confiscated property.

Contact Our Connecticut Asset Forfeiture Defense Lawyer

At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we provide representation for people who are facing criminal charges, and we can also help address asset forfeiture that may affect defendants or others who have had money or property confiscated by law enforcement. We work to help recover assets as quickly as possible while protecting the rights of our clients at all times. To learn more about how our Hartford civil asset forfeiture attorney can assist with these issues, contact us at 860-290-8690 and set up a free consultation.

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