Too many people make the mistake of thinking that they will only face penalties for a crime if they are convicted of one. These people fail to recognize the consequences that come with simply being accused of criminal activity or even associated with it.
Civil asset forfeiture is one such consequence. It refers to the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize money, assets and any property the agency believes is the result of a crime or otherwise associated with criminal activity, such as drug manufacturing or sales. In other words, the police can take your property if they have reason to believe it’s connected to a crime.
Not surprisingly, this is a divisive topic. On one side are those who support forfeiture as a way of deterring criminal activity by removing the incentive to engage in unlawful behavior.
On the other side are those who argue that civil asset forfeiture, despite its intended purpose, is ineffective and allows police and law enforcement agencies to abuse the system. When they seize property, these agencies can keep or sell it to their own benefit unless the property owner takes action to reclaim it, which many do not do.
This has led to efforts to reform civil asset forfeiture in Texas. One group, for example, is working to change it to criminal asset forfeiture, which would mean that police would need a higher level of proof to seize property.
Unfortunately, as it stands, police can come and take your money or your property if they believe it is tied to criminal activity, and it requires great effort on your part to get it back. More upsetting is the fact that you don’t even need to be convicted of or even charged with a crime for this to happen.
In order to protect yourself, your property and your rights, it can be crucial that you consult a criminal defense attorney if you are accused of or being investigated for crimes like drug possession, manufacturing or trafficking. You do not have to wait until you are charged with a crime to need guidance and benefit from experienced legal support.