By: Daniel Smith
It seems like you have no rights these days and US Customs treats you like a drug dealer if they find that you have cash on you when you cross the border or a checkpoint. It is confusing, but here is a brief explanation of how the U.S. thinks when they confiscate money and sometimes send a letter in the mail entitled “NOTICE OF SEIZURE AND INFORMATION TO CLAIMANTS FORM AF”.
The theory that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DEA, and FBI use is that any money earned as a result of criminal activity is the property of the government. Then the games begin. The letter will tell you that you have a choice of an “election of proceedings” and one of those is that you can write a letter or a “petition of remission” which seems very attractive because many people think they can just “explain” the problem and the money, car, or other property will be returned. Usually the petition is denied and you lose your property. The election of proceedings also offers you the choice of an Offer in Compromise, to simply give up and Abandon your property, and lastly, to seek Court Action (Judicial Proceedings). The fact of the matter is that government is using its powers to finance its policing for profits.
In other words, the police department of government division involved gets to keep the property if you do not choose challenge the forfeiture of your property. There is no black or white answer because we all know each case is different. But it is worth your time to talk to a lawyer about the best option. For instance, I recall a case where the wife owned the property with here husband and she held a good job. The wife had no idea the husband was involved in illegal activity. It turned out she was entitled to one-half of the property (in this case it was money) and the return of the car or automobile the government calls a “conveyance” because it was in her name as well. But it takes work and the proper election of proceedings.
Let your friends know, especially the wives left with nothing to support their kids and family the they have only 30 days from the date of the Notice of Seizure and Forfeiture to talk to a lawyer and make a claim or all may be lost forever to the Government!