What Is the Destruction of Property to Prevent Seizure?
It is against the law to destroy or take away property so that the government cannot take it. The government can take away property and money from anyone who is convicted of breaking certain federal laws, like drug crimes and money laundering. This is known as a forfeiture. Before a property is forfeited, a federal prosecutor must prove that the person used the property to commit a crime, got it from illegal activity, or bought it with money from unlawful conduct.
Federal law prohibits the destruction of property to avoid its seizure under 18 USC § 2232. The seizure of property gained from illegal activity is both meant to dissuade people from committing crimes and to also enrich the government when they eventually sell the property at auctions. If you are facing the destruction of property to prevent criminal seizure charges, then it is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
What Are the Potential Penalties for the Destruction of Property to Prevent Seizure?
It is against the law to try to destroy or remove any item of property that the U.S. government can take under seizure or forfeiture laws. Agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have the authority under federal law to investigate crime and seize property that is believed to be connected to illegal activity. If you are convicted of destroying property to prevent its seizure, then you can face up to five years in prison and a fine by the court.
What Are the Requirements for the Government to Seize Your Property?
The government cannot just simply come and take your property without proper legal justification. There are a couple of steps that must take place before an attempted seizure can occur. The government must show three things to prove that you committed the crime of destroying property to be seized:
- Someone was allowed by the government to search for and seize the property (for example, with a warrant).
- You destroyed or removed the property designated for seizure (or tried to do this) on purpose.
- You did this so that the property would not be seized.
The government may try to seize your property to inspect the property as part of an investigation or to keep it under forfeiture laws due to money owed to the government, or to stop you from committing a crime. Once the government has a link between the property and the alleged crimes, they can then go seek a warrant to search and seize the property alleged to be involved.
What Are Some Common Defenses to a Destruction of Property to Prevent Seizure Charge?
There are several defenses that can be used if you are accused of destroying evidence that is to be seized. Several defenses may be available depending on the answers to some of the following questions:
- Did the police violate your constitutional rights?
- Did the police have a legitimate warrant to seize your property?
- Was the property destroyed by accident?
- Did you know that the property was going to be seized by the government?
- Was the property in question actually involved in any illegal activity?
The answers to these and other questions will help you decide what your best potential defenses are. Some defenses can only be made before the trial starts, while other defenses can only be made during the trial. Make sure you have your case evaluated by an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to determine what your potential best defenses are.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Federal criminal cases are processed in federal District Courts. In Pennsylvania, there are three federal Districts known as the Central, Middle, and Eastern Districts. All federal criminal cases that arise in Pennsylvania are handled in these districts based on location. If your case arises in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be heard in the Middle District or Eastern Districts, respectively.
If you disagree with a decision or verdict, then you can file an appeal. Appeals from the Middle and Eastern Districts must go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The remaining appellate court is the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court chooses the cases it hears and decides. There is no right to be heard in the United States Supreme Court. An experienced criminal defense attorney is invaluable.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with a crime by the federal government, then it is important to have an attorney who has experience with federal defense. Your attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and how strong the evidence is against you. You will need to evaluate your case to determine your best defense strategy and decide if it is in your best interests to make a plea deal. If you have questions, please contact us.
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for destroying property that is to be seized by the federal government, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm Team is the right choice to help defend your federal case.