If you or a family member has been arrested and law enforcement has seized your money, automobile, or some item of personal property you may have difficulty getting it back. Or if you have been served with a notice of potential property seizure you may not know what to do.
Asset forfeiture is a major moneymaker for the several law enforcement agencies in Southern Texas. Every year monies from seized property are used to fund law enforcement budgets and pay salaries. If your property was used in the commission of a felony in Texas it could be subject to forfeiture to the State. The statute governing civil asset forfeiture is very broad and favors the State of Texas, Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows for the State of Texas to forfeit “contraband” used in the commission of a criminal act if it is proven “more likely than not the contraband was used in the commission of a felony.”
“Contraband” can be described as, “property of any nature; including real, personal, tangible or intangible that is used in the commission of any first or second degree felony under the Texas Penal Code.” “Contraband” can also be proceeds from commission of illegal activity or property acquired with monetary gains from that illegal activity. The Code describes the procedures used by the State in order to seize and forfeit this contraband. Once the State has successfully forfeited the property it is usually sold at auction or incorporated into a law enforcement budget.
Whether you were charged with a crime or you were an owner or lienholder on seized property, which was previously used in the commission of a crime by another person, you need to understand your rights and have competent legal representation.
The law provides for a defense in certain situations. For example, if you were an “innocent owner” under the law, the State can still try to forfeit the property and the burden shifts to the owner to prove that the owner was unaware of the property’s illicit use and that ownership at the time is free of any criminal activity.
The Law Office of Edna Herrera Dinsdale understands how valuable your property can be, if the State of Texas has started asset forfeiture proceedings against your property please call our us today for a FREE CONSULTATION.