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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Money is Seized at an Airport

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 11, 2023)

Last Updated on: 11th October 2023, 04:56 pm

Money Seized at the Airport – What You Need to Know

So your money was seized at the airport. Let’s talk about what happened and what you can do.First off, having cash seized totally stinks. I’m sure it was a scary and frustrating situation. But don’t worry – there are things you can do to get your money back.Now I ain’t no fancy big-city lawyer, so I can’t give you official legal advice. But I can share what I’ve learned from research and my own experience with this issue. Hopefully it helps provide some guidance on where to go from here.

Why Did They Take My Money?

There’s a few reasons the authorities might seize cash at an airport:

  • You had over $10,000 and didn’t declare it: If you’re traveling internationally, you need to declare any amount over $10,000. Otherwise, they can take it as an undeclared asset. This happens a lot – billions have been seized for this reason!
  • They suspected it was involved in illegal activity: Maybe something seemed suspicious about your story or luggage, so they took the cash on suspicion of drug trafficking or other crimes. Of course, they need evidence to prove that.
  • It was a random search: Sometimes they’ll do random bag searches and just happen to find a bunch of cash. Then they seize it to investigate where it came from.
  • You consented to a search: They can ask to search your bags and if you say yes, anything they find can be seized as evidence. Never consent to a search if you’re carrying a lot of cash!

What Happens to the Money After it’s Seized?

Once it’s taken, the money goes into a suspense fund while they investigate the case. If it‘s not returned to you within 30 days, the seizing agency (like DEA or Homeland Security) keeps the cash and can spend it!

That’s why it’s crucial to act fast if you want it back! Don’t let them keep it without a fight.

How Do I Get My Money Back?

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get a lawyer ASAP. Seriously, this is so important. An experienced attorney knows how to get seized cash returned. Don’t delay!
  • File a claim. You must file a legal claim demanding the cash back. There are deadlines so act quick!
  • Prove where the money came from. Have records showing it’s from legal sources like your business, casino winnings, etc.
  • Negotiate with the agency. Your lawyer can negotiate with them to return some or all of the money without a court fight.
  • Take it to court if needed. If they won’t budge, your attorney can file a lawsuit to fight it out in court.

It ain’t easy, but people have succeeded in getting their money back by taking these steps. So don’t lose hope!

Why Do I Need a Lawyer So Badly?

Great question! Here’s why a good lawyer is so important:

  • They know the system. All the rules, processes and deadlines – it’s complex! A lawyer handles it smoothly.
  • Negotiation skills. They can negotiate with the agency professionally and effectively.
  • Court experience. If it goes to court, you need someone who has done this before.
  • Prove the money’s legal. They know how to gather records and build a case proving it.
  • Avoid mistakes. One wrong move could really hurt your chances! A lawyer prevents mistakes.

Money Seized at the Airport – Should I Hire a Lawyer?

Having cash confiscated at an airport can be scary and frustrating. Even though there’s no legal limit on how much money you can carry, if you’re traveling internationally, you must declare sums over $10,000. And agents can seize cash for many reasons – even if obtained legally.

If money is taken from you at an airport, the first thing to do is hire a lawyer experienced with these cases. An attorney can help get your money back through legal filings and defenses. I’ll explain the process and your options below.

Why Money May Be Seized

There are a few reasons authorities like the DEA, TSA, or Customs may seize cash at airports:

  • You’re carrying over $10,000 internationally without declaring it
  • Agents think the money is tied to illegal activity like drug trafficking
  • You make inconsistent statements about the money’s origins
  • A drug dog alerts agents to your bag containing cash

Even if the cash is 100% legally obtained, it can still be taken. That’s why you need an attorney to fight for its return.

Getting Your Money Back

If money is seized, here are key steps to take:

  1. Hire an experienced lawyer – They can navigate laws and defend your rights
  2. File a claim demanding court action – Forces the agency to justify the seizure
  3. Gather evidence like surveillance footage – Can help prove improper seizure
  4. Negotiate with prosecutors for return of funds – Avoids a lengthy court battle

Never admit guilt or try to explain the money’s origins. That can hurt your case. An attorney will advise you on responding to questioning.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Navigating cash seizure laws is complex. An attorney can help by:

  • Filing paperwork to contest the seizure and trigger court action
  • Obtaining surveillance video before it’s deleted
  • Interviewing witnesses to build your defense
  • Negotiating with prosecutors for full or partial return of money
  • Going to court if needed to fight the forfeiture

In many cases, an experienced lawyer can get some or all money returned quickly, avoiding drawn-out legal proceedings.

Many lawyers work on contingency in these cases. This means you only pay if money is recovered. Typical fees are 30-40% of funds returned.

Shop around, as some lawyers charge hourly or flat rates. Compare experience, case results, and fee structures.

Also ask if you pay upfront costs like filing fees. Some lawyers advance these costs, reimbursing themselves only if money is recovered.


  • If money is seized at an airport, immediately hire a lawyer experienced in these cases
  • A good lawyer can help recover some or all of the seized cash
  • Respond to questioning carefully and don’t admit anything without your lawyer
  • Shop around for a lawyer with a fee structure that works for your situation

Having cash taken at an airport is stressful, but a knowledgeable legal team can make the process smoother and increase your chances of getting money back.

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