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When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Federal Criminal Forfeiture Defense

Under federal law, people who have been convicted of certain federal crimes may have some of their property and assets seized by prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. Some of the convictions that could result in federal criminal forfeiture include drug trafficking, copyright infringement, money laundering, organized crime, and child pornography. However, forfeiture is not allowed in every federal criminal case.

Before your property and assets can be seized, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you got the property through committing crimes, purchased it with money you gained through illegal activity, or used it to commit the offense. If you have been indicted for a qualifying federal crime and have been notified that the government intends to seize your assets if you are convicted, you should seek help from an experienced federal criminal forfeiture attorney.

Federal criminal forfeiture vs. civil forfeiture

Since federal criminal forfeiture is an in personam action against the individual instead of against the property, a person must be convicted before the prosecutor can try to seize his or her property and assets. By contrast, civil forfeiture is an in rem action against the property itself and does not require a conviction.

In a federal criminal forfeiture case, the defendant must first be convicted of a qualifying federal crime. The federal prosecutor will have the burden of proving that the property was somehow used or obtained because of the defendant’s criminal activity. The property that the government intends to seize must also be identified so that others with an interest in the property can try to claim it.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

Requirement to prove the property was involved in criminal activity

If you are convicted of a federal crime that allows the prosecutor to pursue federal criminal forfeiture, the prosecutor will have the burden to prove that the property was used or earned through criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower burden than the prosecutor’s burden of proving your guilt of the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

In some cases, it is straightforward to show that property was involved in criminal activity. For example, if you purchased a vacation home with the money you earned through drug trafficking, it could be seized. In other cases, the link between criminal activity and the assets or property will be more tenuous and might not justify the government’s seizure.

How federal criminal forfeiture works

Defendants are notified that the government intends to pursue federal criminal forfeiture when they are indicted. The prosecutor might ask for a restraining order to prevent you from selling the identified property before your case is over or place a lien on it. If you are found guilty, the prosecutor will then present evidence to the jury that your property was somehow involved in the criminal activity, and the jury will determine whether or not it should be seized.

If the jury determines your assets should be seized, a preliminary order will be issued by the federal court. The government will then publish a notice of its intent to seize your property on the federal forfeiture website. Any third party that has an interest in the property can then appear at a hearing and object to the forfeiture. For example, if the government intends to seize your home, your mortgage lender might object at the hearing. If a defense is not successfully asserted at the hearing, the court will then issue a final order of forfeiture.

Defending against federal criminal forfeiture

Both federal criminal defendants and third parties with property interests in the property that the government intends to seize can raise defenses to federal criminal forfeiture.

The primary defense available to criminal defendants and property owners is that they did not use the property for illegal activities or gain it through illegal activity. For example, a defendant might argue that the money in his or her bank account came from an inheritance instead of being proceeds from drug sales.

Property owners who share the property that the government intends to seize with criminal defendants can argue that they were unaware that the property was used for illegal purposes. For example, a vehicle’s owner might argue that he or she did not know or consent to a co-owner’s use of the car to transport drugs. This type of defense is known as the innocent owner defense.

Secured creditors that are unaware of a defendant’s criminal activities can also argue against criminal forfeiture of the property in which they hold a secured interest. For example, in U.S. v. Huntington National Bank, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that a bank had a right to the proceeds held in an account that the government intended to seize through federal criminal forfeiture because the criminal defendant had a line of credit and loans from the bank, and the bank had no knowledge that the defendant had engaged in a massive fraud scheme.

Talk to an experienced federal criminal forfeiture attorney

If you are a criminal defendant with a property that is targeted for federal criminal forfeiture or are a third party with an interest in the property that the government intends to seize, you should consult with a federal criminal forfeiture attorney as soon as possible. These types of matters are complex, and prosecutors aggressively pursue them. With the help of an experienced attorney who practices in federal court, you might be able to protect your interests and rights.

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