Cash Seizures
at Ports of Entry and Airports

Cash Seizures at Ports of Entry and Airports

Have you recently been confronted by federal agents working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at an airport, train station, or other port of entry in New York City? If the DHS has filed criminal charges against you and seized the cash you had on hand, you are probably wondering how you can possibly recover your seized property.

When the DHS investigates an individual suspected of money laundering connected to illegal activity, they will do everything they can to prevent the individual from profiting from their criminal activity. The criminal asset forfeiture laws in place in the United States exist to prevent criminals from profiting off actions that harm the public and endanger innocent people, such as drug trafficking and fraud. Unfortunately, the cash seizure policies in place at the federal level do not always function as intended. If your cash has been wrongfully seized, or if you need help proving that seized cash is not connected to illegal activity, an NYC cash seizure attorney can help.

What Can an Attorney Do for Me?

An experienced NYC defense attorney can assess the charges against you and determine your available defenses, but they can also assist with tangential matters like cash seizure. A New York City cash seizure lawyer can help you file a civil motion that will prevent the US government from taking complete control over your seized assets. For example, if you had a briefcase full of cash with you at the airport and DHS arrested you upon your arrival in NYC, they likely confiscated the briefcase. Your attorney can help you establish your defense and prove that seized assets are your legally obtained property.

Ultimately, it is always best to hire an experienced defense attorney whenever you are facing criminal charges of any kind. Even if you are innocent and think you can prove it on your own, facing down a government agency like the DHS without legal representation is not a good idea. The federal government can conduct criminal asset forfeiture after an individual has been convicted, but they don’t have to wait. They can typically seize cash and other assets immediately during an arrest if they have probable cause linking the seized assets to the criminal activity they are investigating. What they define as criminal activity may be as simple as migrating to the US.

Problems With Cash Seizure

The Money Laundering Act of 1986 was enacted to protect the American economy and the public from those seeking to profit from illegal activities. The Act allowed federal law enforcement agencies to pursue money laundering charges in addition to other criminal charges if the suspect’s criminal activity involved earning and handling money obtained through illegal means. For example, if a cocaine dealer made millions of dollars in illegal drug sales and purchased a Corvette, this is a form of money laundering under the Act. If the DHS or other federal agency investigated the individual for illegal cocaine sale and trafficking, their vehicle and any other property that was purchased with drug money would qualify for asset forfeiture.

There is also a large difference between criminal asset forfeiture, which takes place after an individual is tried and convicted, and civil asset forfeiture, which basically allows the government to seize property without the owner undergoing due process. Typically, the DHS only needs to meet the evidentiary standard of a “preponderance of the evidence” instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal proceedings. If you had your cash seized at a port of entry, it will likely fall under the umbrella of civil asset forfeiture. You will need to act quickly with the help of a New York City cash seizure lawyer.

Defending Against Cash Seizure

One of the most difficult aspects of experiencing cash seizure at a port of entry or more invasive civil asset forfeiture is that the ordeal may leave you unable to afford legal representation for your criminal case. Once the government has seized control over your bank accounts and other assets, you may be left functionally penniless and unable to afford an attorney. This is one reason why it is so crucial to speak to an attorney immediately after an arrest conducted by the DHS. Just like an arrest conducted by local police, you have the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel, and you should take full advantage of both of these rights and start building your defense as soon as possible.

The nebulous nature of civil asset forfeiture laws in the US means that it is not uncommon for individuals to be arrested at ports of entry and their cash seized without any idea what they have done wrong. In the event a person has been unknowingly connected to or participating in illegal activities, this could form an affirmative defense on their behalf and help them recover their seized property.

One of the most important services your NYC cash seizure attorney can provide in your case is helping you prove that seized cash and other assets are not ill-gotten gains and that you obtained the seized property through legal means. Remember that once the DHS has seized your cash and other property, they will issue a formal notice of the seizure within 90 days, and you will only have 30 days to respond before the United States Treasury assumes ownership over your seized cash and assets.

Find Your Lawyer Today

At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, we know how devastating it can be to be arrested at a port of entry due to mistaken identity, a wrongful accusation, or an incomplete DHS investigation. Cash seizure can make you feel helpless. Attempting to challenge the US government may seem entirely out of the scope of possibility for you. However, this is not the case, and the right attorney can help you recover your seized cash and build a defense against the charges you face. If you have committed criminal acts, but the cash and assets seized were not connected to your illegal activities, your attorney can help you prevent those assets from becoming subject to seizure by the DHS or other federal agencies.

Contact the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PPLC today to schedule a consultation with an experienced New York City cash seizure lawyer. We will thoroughly review the charges against you and initiate defensive proceedings on your behalf to recover your cash as quickly as possible.

We Set the Bar Others Strive to Reach

While criminal asset forfeiture is largely uncontroversial, civil asset forfeiture is a far more contentious subject. Civil asset forfeiture is similar to criminal asset forfeiture in that it is a legal vehicle for stripping illegally obtained property from an individual, or seizing property used in the commission of a crime. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, civil asset forfeiture occurs against the property itself and does not require the owner to undergo due process under the law.

The civil forfeiture laws of the United States and the state of New York include verbiage that allows law enforcement officials more flexibility in the seizing of assets. Basically, the standard for seizure in civil asset forfeiture is a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as is the case for criminal asset forfeiture. Seizure of assets also takes place first in civil asset forfeiture instead of at the conclusion of a criminal case as it does with criminal asset forfeiture.

Many argue that existing civil asset forfeiture laws allow the justice system to essentially circumvent Americans’ Constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure. One of the worst aspects of current civil asset forfeiture laws is the fact that they basically allow any government agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to seize any property they suspect may be connected to a crime before they even file charges. This same right extends to state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies. These entities also have incentive to keep the property they seized, including money recovered through civil asset forfeiture.

Vehicular Assault – A vehicular assault may fall under the category of a Class E or Class D felony in New York state. A common example of vehicular assault is when a driver has a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and causes bodily harm to another person while operating a vehicle. If the vehicular assault results in a fatality, the driver could be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Depending on the specific circumstances, a vehicular manslaughter conviction may result in a jail sentence of up to 25 years and $5,000 in fines, according to DrivingLaws.com.

Gang Assault – When someone teams up with one or more individuals to commit an assault on another person, this is considered a gang assault in New York. The National Gang Center states that a first-degree gang assault is considered a class B felony while a second-degree gang assault is classified as a class C felony. A person charged with a class B felony may have to serve a prison term of between five and twenty-five years. A class C felony is a less serious offense and does not require a sentence longer than seven years.

Assault on a Police Officer – Physically harming a police officer is considered a serious offense in New York and could leave you with a class C felony on your record. An aggravated assault of a police officer is considered a class B felony, which may carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years. According to YPDCrime.com, you could face similar charges if you assault a peace officer, paramedic or firefighter.

Assault in the 3rd Degree – This broad category comes with a class A felony charge, which is the highest degree of felony and may include life imprisonment. Justia describes this type of assault as someone who causes harm to another person in a reckless or criminally negligent manner with egregious damages.

Facing asset forfeiture can be a very difficult experience and hiring the right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Many people feel hopeless when facing asset forfeiture, even if they have been wrongfully accused of a crime and face civil asset forfeiture, simply because it seems too expensive to try and fight it.

An attorney with experience in federal criminal defense as well state-level criminal defense can represent you in a criminal case and help you prove that your assets and property were not obtained illegally or eligible for criminal asset forfeiture. This may require extensive research and providing specific documentation to the court. When it comes to civil asset forfeiture, the right attorney can help you provide the evidence you need to show that your assets and property are unconnected to any criminal activity.

The Law Offices of Robert Tsigler can give you legal guidance to help you throughout each phase of the process. Your case will be examined in a timely manner so that you can start preparing for court sooner. Call today to receive a consultation.

When you have had your property and assets unfairly seized, or if you expect to face criminal asset forfeiture due to a criminal charge, you need an attorney with extensive experience handling asset forfeiture proceedings. A good asset forfeiture attorney will help you determine what documentation you will need to produce to get your property back.

At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, our attorneys have a stellar track record of winning cases for thousands of clients in New York City. We take a client-focused approach to criminal defense and our legal team will get to know your situation in the most detail possible for the most comprehensive legal representation. Our goal is to eliminate uncertainty for you during a difficult time and help you maintain control over your rightfully owned property and assets.

We serve a diverse range of clients facing asset forfeiture and can provide legal counsel in English, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Mandarin, and Hungarian.  If you need legal representation for civil or criminal asset forfeiture, our attorneys will be available to answer your questions 24 hours a day until you get results. We understand how difficult it can be and how hopeless you might feel when facing criminal or civil asset forfeiture, so contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

An attorney with experience in federal criminal defense as well state-level criminal defense can represent you in a criminal case and help you prove that your assets and property were not obtained illegally or eligible for criminal asset forfeiture. This may require extensive research and providing specific documentation to the court. When it comes to civil asset forfeiture, the right attorney can help you provide the evidence you need to show that your assets and property are unconnected to any criminal activity.

The Law Offices of Robert Tsigler can give you legal guidance to help you throughout each phase of the process. Your case will be examined in a timely manner so that you can start preparing for court sooner. Call today to receive a consultation.

The Asset Forfeiture & Seizure firm of Robert Tsigler, PLLC is Ready to Fight for You!

At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, our New York civil rights lawyers strongly believe in ensuring that violations do not occur. If they already have, we fight for fair recourse against abuse. Call today to learn more.

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