Getting up and going to work every day can be tiresome. Still, you work hard to pay for your home, car, personal belongings and other things you have in your life. If you commit a crime, though, law enforcement agencies may take your things away from you. While asset forfeiture is common with drug-related crimes, it can occur in other instances as well.
In Georgia, there are two types of asset forfeiture: criminal and civil. With criminal asset forfeiture, prosecutors must charge you with a crime before seizing your possessions. That is not always the case, though. On the contrary, the government may also use civil asset forfeiture to take your property if it has some connection to criminal activity.
Law enforcement agencies in the Peach State enjoy wide latitude to take crime-linked property. To do so, they must only show it is more likely than not your belongings have a connection to a crime. This is a comparatively low legal threshold. Still, government officials have an incentive to seize property. That is, as much as 100% of the proceeds from forfeited assets go to law enforcement agencies.
You do not have to stand idly by while law enforcement officials take your property. If you believe the forfeiture to be improper, you can file an innocent-owner claim. For your claim to be successful, though, you must show that you did not know about the criminal activity. You also must demonstrate that you did not consent to the illegal usage of your property. Furthermore, you must assert your legal rights within 30 days of the seizure.
You have a tremendous amount of time, money and effort invested in the things you own. As such, you should be able to enjoy your property fully. If you believe officers have wrongfully taken the items you own, you must act both quickly and diligently to protect yourself and your belongings.