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Forfeiture Frequently Asked Questions

What is Asset Forfeiture?

Asset Forfeiture is a process that the Government (State or Federal) use to first seize your property and then keep it.

Why did the Government take my currency, vehicle, or house?

Many times your property is seized because the Government believes that it used as part of a crime. This can be a vehicle used to transport drugs, cash that was not declared to customs, or even a house where a crime occured.

Immediately after forfeiting the property, the goverment agency can sell the property and then keep the proceeds–billions of dollars worth of assets.

How to I get my money, cash, car, or home back?

The most important thing to do is fight. A large number of civil forfeitures are either defaulted because no one filed a claim or denied because the strict and confusing timelines are not followed.

What Agencies civilly forfeit property?

Typically, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), Customs (Department of Homeland Security), and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Transportation hubs and ports like Miami and Los Angeles have the most activitity.

Is it easy to get my stuff back?

If you are able to untangle the confusing web of deadlines and procedures, and add in the potential of incriminitating yourself, maybe.

How can Sebastian Ohanian help?

I have signficiant experience in asset forfeitures that has lead me to recover millions of dollars for my clients.

I am able to appear on your behalf in any Federal, Florida, or California court.

Am I going to get arrested if I file a claim or contest a forfeiture?

Every case is different, but in my experience, the filing of a claim will not trigger an arrest. The decision to arrest or indict an individual is typically made prior to the seizure of property.
Also, you may have heard of the burden of proof in a criminal case: the government must prove you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict you of a crime. The same is not true with forfeitures: the government only needs to show a “preponderance of evidence. This is a much easier standard for the government, so many times the government will attempt to forfeit property instead of arresting you.