RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, has become an invaluable tool for law enforcement. When an organization is suspected of having engaged in two or more instances of racketeering, they can be forced to sacrifice property in what is known as a civil forfeiture. Any property that a jury determines to be eligible for forfeiture, can be taken by prosecutors. This is known as a civil forfeiture.
Civil forfeiture has become one of law enforcement’s most important tools, and it uses this tool against those they believe have committed illegal activities as often as they can. If you have been accused of RICO and your property has been identified as subject to civil forfeiture, it is important to understand that you do not need to have been found guilty of a crime to be subject to this penalty. The forfeiture is identified as being against the assets rather than against the business owner.
What you need to understand about civil forfeiture is that the charge is made against the property involved in the criminal activity instead of against the property’s owner. Unfortunately, what this means is that nearly anything associated with the business can be taken and charged with being a product of a crime, including your home, office building, vehicles, cash, or any type of valuables or belonging.
Part of the justification for civil forfeiture is that when law enforcement assumes ownership of the products of a crime, they can use them or the proceeds of selling them to continue pursuing criminals. Though some outsiders view this process as justice at work, there have been numerous instances of the process being abused, and property being seized from people accused of crimes when they have no actual association with criminal activity. Civil forfeiture is activated at every level of law enforcement, in every state, through a partnership with federal crime fighters. This dynamic is known as equitable sharing.
If your belongings have been identified and taken as part of a civil forfeiture proceeding, it is possible to appeal that action and try to get your property back but doing so is extremely challenging. It is strongly suggested that you don’t attempt to contest a civil forfeiture of your property without the guidance of an experienced RICO attorney. Contact our office to set up a time for a consultation.