Cash Seizures in Cincinnati, Ohio
The practice of asset forfeiture, also known as cash seizure, has exploded over the past several years. Civil asset forfeiture is becoming more controversial since law enforcement has been empowered to seize property or cash from an individual solely on the suspicion that it was acquired from illegal acts.
If you had cash or property seized in Cincinnati, OH, the attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates may be able to assist you. Let us explain your rights regarding asset forfeiture, the process for getting your property or money back, and how to proceed. Call (513) 338-1890 for a free and confidential consultation.
What are Cash Seizures?
Forfeiture laws, under Ohio Revised Code 2981.01, allow law enforcement officers the right to seize a large sum of money, assets, or property they find in your car or on your person if they have any suspicion it may be involved in money laundering or drug trafficking. This is what’s referred to as civil asset forfeiture.
Cash and property seizure came into practice to discourage criminal activity by seizing suspected property and cash to deprive them of the ability to continue illegal acts.
The Police Can Seize Cash & Property
For the government to take possession of private property, they must justify the forfeiture. One of two situations must exist to justify the forfeiture:
- The property was used or intended to be used as a means to commit a crime
- The property has no proof of coming from a legitimate source
- Challenging the validity of the search and seizure
- Highlighting flaws in the traffic stop that led to the seizure
- Pointing out unlawful interrogation or questioning
- Challenging the validity of the search warrants
- Demonstrate that inadmissible (invalid) evidence was used to justify the seizure
For example, if a vehicle is used to smuggle narcotics over state or federal lines, it is subject to forfeiture due to its use in transporting an illegal drug.
Civil vs. Criminal Forfeiture
Civil Asset Forfeiture and criminal asset forfeiture involve the legal removal of cash or property based on suspicion. Each forfeiture case boils down to allegations of criminal conduct.
In civil forfeiture, prosecutors do not have to wait until the conclusion of a criminal case to seize property. The government can also proceed with a civil asset forfeiture without criminal prosecution. In these cases, an individual can face civil forfeiture without being arrested.
Asset forfeiture as part of a criminal prosecution is considered criminal forfeiture. Despite its name, it is still a civil proceeding, requiring a civil burden of proof with limited due process. A judge oversees the resolution of such claims, and any criminal forfeiture is punitive.
In the federal courts, criminal forfeiture proceedings only occur following a conviction.
Asset Forfeiture & Cash Seizure in Cincinnati
Cincinnati cash seizures frequently happen while officers perform routine traffic stops. If, during the traffic stop, a trooper sees a large sum in your vehicle, they may question you on its purpose and origin. It can be confiscated if they suspect it stems from an illegal means.
If you face such a cash seizure, it is in your best interest to remain calm and contact a forfeiture attorney in Cincinnati who can better facilitate its return.
Conditions & Limitations of Cash Seizures
According to Ohio HB 347, an officer cannot seize cash and assets valued under $15,000 unless there is a criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, there is a very low burden of proof when seizing funds above $15,000. They must only show “clear and convincing evidence” that the property in question is linked to criminal activity.
Your Options If Cash is Seized in Cincinnati, OH
In Ohio, you have 30 days to file a claim and have a hearing on your case to regain control of money seized by a state trooper. Recovering your property is dependent on the circumstances in which it was taken.
If you have contraband taken, it is not returned through standard procedure. A prosecutor must give a release if cash was seized for evidence. For other situations, you should contact the police directly.
Any cash seized must be turned into the Seizure Forfeiture Unit (SFU) in 14 days or less. Law enforcement must send you a written notice of the forfeiture within 10 days and include the date, time, and location of said seizure and a detailed description of all property seized. If a voucher for your cash was provided when the property was searched with a legal warrant, the money may be retrieved at the police station using that receipt.
In some circumstances, a receipt is not given to you, and you must return to the original location of arrest or forfeiture to obtain paperwork regarding the cash forfeiture.
An Attorney Can Help with a Cash Seizure
The attorneys with Luftman, Heck & Associates understand the process behind Ohio cash seizures and can build an argument based on your circumstances. Our attorneys know what to look for and how to arrange for the return of your unlawfully seized money and property by:
If you can provide documentation or other evidence showing that your cash was legitimately obtained (e.g., from a legal business operation, a gift, or a withdrawal from your bank account), this could provide solid grounds for having the cash returned. A lawyer can contest a cash seizure by proving that the money or property was legitimately obtained. They can also say that the seizure was excessive in relation to the alleged crime, which can violate the Eighth Amendment.
If there was a case of mistaken identity or other wrongful seizure, the lawyer can present evidence supporting these claims. Lastly, the lawyer can question whether adequate notice was given and an opportunity to contest the seizure.
It is important to remember that the government bears the burden of proof to show that the cash or property seized was used in or intended for criminal activity. The property in question must be returned to you if the government cannot meet this burden of proof.
Call a Cincinnati Cash Seizure Attorney
Cash seizures continue to be on the rise in Cincinnati, and if you are the victim of a cash seizure, you’ll likely be angry and very confused that your property could be taken.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have considerable experience dealing with asset forfeiture and a track record for getting people’s property back. Let us defend your rights and fight to return your cash and property. Contact us for a free consultation. Call (513) 338-1890 or contact us online to get started.