Every year, thousands of people decide to litigate (take a claim to court) and explore the complex processes involved in civil action. These lawsuits—including civil forfeiture—often involve complaints and answers, document discovery, depositions, and summary judgment motions, and can be difficult to navigate without a Jacksonville criminal attorney.
Pros and Cons of Litigation
- If you are under investigation regarding civil forfeiture, your attorney can gather reports and depositions from the accusing agents only if you decide to litigate.
- If you and your attorney decide to litigate, however, you might have to respond to depositions and sign allegations while under oath.
- Although recent reforms within federal and state forfeiture have shifted more of the burden of proof onto the government than in the past, the burden essentially falls to you to defend your property ownership if you are under investigation.
- If you are not sure whether to contest forfeiture, ask yourself if losing the property would cause a financial hardship.
- If you would be financially strained, then you can attempt to convince the court of your hardship.
- If you can prove that forfeiting the property would make it difficult to pay your Jacksonville criminal attorney’s fees, support your family, maintain your home, or run your business, the court can release the property until the resolution of the final disposition (assuming that you agree not to sell the property during the lawsuit’s resolution).
Prejudicing Your Defense
- Anything you say or do can be used against you, so you may want to reconsider engaging in forfeiture litigation if taking action would undermine your defense position in the case.
Innocent Third Parties
- There is no reason that you should not litigate forfeiture if you are an innocent third party.
- A third party can even explore an ancillary proceeding after the conclusion of forfeiture litigation if unsatisfied with the final judgment.
Coercing a Plea Agreement
- You should not base your decision to litigate upon concern for a favorable plea agreement.
- Because federal and state laws restrict using forfeiture to coerce a plea, your choice to forcefully defend against forfeiture cannot negatively affect a future plea offer.
- In fact, the government sometimes offers a plea agreement more willingly when faced with a defendant that will strongly fight forfeiture.
Even when you are equipped with these tips, the forfeiture litigation process can often be lengthy and confusing without the help of a seasoned Jacksonville criminal attorney. Don’t let your property fall into the wrong hands; find the guidance you are searching for from the Attorneys at Canan Law by calling Patrick Canan today at (904) 824-9402.