Video: Defending Asset Forfeiture Cases

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Asset Forfeiture Expert Steve Jumes discusses defending asset forfeiture cases in this short video.

The United States Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund currently, in year 2015, collected more than $1.3 billion in forfeiture funds. The Treasury Department, which is separate from the DOJ, has their own asset forfeiture fund, which collected more than $600 million last year. There was more than $300 million distributed in equitable sharing this year and every local agency, even as near as the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office makes a lot of money. Tarrant County made nearly $3 million in equitable sharing.

The conclusion that needs to be reached is that forfeiture is going to grow. It is here to stay. Any time there is a strapped budget, there’s always going to be an incentive for forfeiture to increase and be on the rise. There’s some cases of abuse. There’s some cases where it is appropriate and I’m not the type of attorney and this isn’t the kind of firm that throws bombs and says, “The whole forfeiture apparatus is corrupt.”

However, we’re sophisticated enough to know that behavior follows incentives and with that kind of money flying around, lawyers should become better at defending these cases and not ignoring them. For people who find themselves in this situation, whether they’ve had a piece of property seized, or whether their kids’ property was seized, or a company asset is seized, or is going to be seized, they really need to get an attorney who understands forfeiture, because forfeiture is based in law. It’s really kind of arcane. It’s not necessarily intuitive to attorneys. It’s important to find attorneys who know their way around and who know how to navigate forfeiture in the context of what also may be a criminal investigation. And so with the money flying around and what’s at stake, forfeiture is on the rise and becoming more important, not less important.

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