Criminal forfeiture is the government seizure of property that is connected to a crime. Criminal forfeiture is a penalty taken against a defendant after a conviction. The government may seize an individual’s property as part of the sentence. Types of personal property subject to forfeiture include illegal contraband, money gained from illegal activity and property used in the commission of a crime. Prosecutors use forfeiture in the prosecution of a number of crimes, but they are especially common in drug crime cases. An example is the forfeiture of a defendant’s home where illegal drugs were produced, sold or distributed. While it may seem like a civil action, criminal forfeiture is a criminal proceeding and a defendant is entitled to the protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
An individual facing criminal forfeiture needs to speak with white collar criminal defense attorney during and after prosecution to avoid self-incrimination and severe penalties. Contact our experienced NY criminal defense attorneys today at 212-736-3900.
Cases leading to criminal forfeiture can involve, among other crimes, the sale and distribution of illegal drugs, embezzlement, solicitation and exploitation of minors.
Often criminal forfeiture is used in cases involving making false claims to steal money or the production and sales of illegal drugs.
Crimes related to criminal forfeiture cases can include money laundering, gambling rings, prostitution, extortion, drug possession, white collar crime, international organized crime, drug trafficking, cybercrime, terrorism, human trafficking and child exploitation.
The statute used in criminal forfeiture cases is: U.S.C. § 1834(a)(1). With regard to the latter provision, however, the court may in its discretion take into consideration "the nature, scope, and proportionality of the use of the property in the offense." 18 U.S.C. § 1834(a)(2). The intent of that limitation is to insure that the amount and character of the forfeited property is proportionate to the harm caused by the defendant's conduct.
In drug related cases, New York has the option to pursue criminal forfeiture under Article 480 - NY Penal Law in Criminal Forfeiture Felony Controlled Substance Offenses.
Criminal forfeiture is considered to be a penalty usually following a conviction of a crime. The federal government will often seize homes, planes, boats and bank accounts. Some criminal forfeiture cases have even resulted in business asset seizure. The government usually only pursues a criminal forfeiture if assets are worth tens of thousands of dollars.
A criminal defense attorney will aggressively defend a client against criminal charges to help reduce penalties, have charges dropped and to avoid a criminal forfeiture action.
There is legislation that allows either a local or federal agency to bring forth a criminal forfeiture action.
In a press release dated May 8, 2014 from the United States Attorney office (Southern District of New York): Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that PETER STRAIN, a talent agent for film, television, and Broadway actors, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to three years’ probation, six months’ home confinement, and 500 hours of community service for engaging in a scheme to steal over $500,000 of his clients’ money, which he used to purchase, among other things, expensive artwork and luxury personal items. STRAIN pled guilty in March 2014 before U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels, who also imposed today’s sentence.
According to the Superseding Information and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at related court proceedings, including today’s sentencing:
Through his talent agency, Peter Strain & Associates (“PSA”), STRAIN represented television, film, and stage actors. As a talent agent, STRAIN received funds in trust for his clients for their acting work, and was required to remit those funds to his clients, less his commission, which was typically 10%. However, between approximately 2011 and 2013, STRAIN diverted money he received on behalf of three clients, and used it to, among other things, pay for personal luxury retail goods and artwork. In order to conceal his theft and ensure that his clients allowed him to continue receiving money on their behalf, STRAIN repeatedly lied to his clients about why he had failed to timely remit their money.