No Attorney Fee/Costs Unless We Recover
Was your UPS or FedEx package seized by police? Were you shipping money? Was the money sealed in vacuum packs? Did you receive a phone call from a detective or special agent?
FedEx & UPS Package Seized by Police
Police regularly seize money and other currency from UPS and FedEx packages. While there are many reasons why someone may ship currency from one place to another in an insured parcel, law enforcement narrowly believes the only people who do that are criminals.
This is a convenient belief because it results in the forfeiture of millions and millions of dollars every year.
When a private shipping company figures out your package contains cash or other currency, they remove the package from shipment and hand it over to law enforcement. In some instances, law enforcement is invited to do “training sessions” using their K-9’s at private shipment facilities.
While the K-9’s are trained to detect drugs and explosives, over time the K-9’s also learn to smell the presence of cash and currency.
When a police K-9 smells cash, he alerts to the package. Once the dog alerts, police will open the package. Sometimes they get a warrant and sometimes they don’t. Regardless, when they find your money, they always seize it.
In every single UPS or FedEx package seizure I have ever seen, police always have relied on the supposed sniff alert by a K-9, even when no drugs or illegal substances are found.
How Do I get My Money Back?
Once your money is seized, contact needs to be made with law enforcement. However, this should only be done through an attorney. Never, ever, ever speak to law enforcement yourself!
Remember, the police are not there to be your friend or help you in any way. They are there to make cases, seize contraband, and arrest people.
That is why it is called law enforcement and not social services.
Step One: Filing a Claim
The very first thing that must be done in any Civil Forfeiture case is a preservation of rights. This is accomplished by filing a claim with the appropriate agency. Filing this claim has many parts to be effective.
First of all, the person making the claim must have an actual interest in the money. You cannot file a claim on someone else’s behalf.
Second, you must determine if the forfeiture will be handled by local, state, or federal authorities. This is extremely important because there are specific rules about what is required for a claim.
For instance, a claim filed in an under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 must be sworn to under penalty of perjury. If it is not sworn to, it can be rejected. Similarly, Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act requires all claims to be mailed via Certified Mail.
In law, even the smallest deviation from a statutory requirement can make the difference between making a claim and losing your rights.
That is why hiring a Civil Forfeiture Defense Attorney is so important. Do not try to figure this out on your own, risking your own money in the process.
Step Two: Investigating the Case
Building a defense for a client who had a UPS or FedEx package seized by police is like building a mighty fortress – one brick at a time. Our investigative team will identify all the relevant witnesses, documentation, and other evidence needed to make a winning claim. Remember, in court the only thing that matters is evidence.
Let me explain – police use K-9’s to justify seizing money and currency because the dogs supposedly alert to narcotics. If the dog alerted, police claim the money must have been in close proximity to large quantities of drugs for a long period of time.
Obviously there is no way clear way to challenge this because dogs do not speak. A dog cannot tell us how sure he was about his sniff, how intense or weak the odor was, or if he was simply mistaken. Police expect us to take a K-9 sniff at face value.
When this occurs, we often times look to other sources to discredit the dog. Money that was withdrawn from a bank wasn’t stored in a cocaine lab or a marijuana grow house for an extended period of time.
Again, this is one of many possible examples of how we use a thorough case investigation to build a winning defense.
Step Three: Settlement Negotiation
Once we have had a chance to fully investigate your case we will assemble all the pieces of evidence into a cohesive case theory. With this in hand, we will engage attorneys for the Government in settlement negotiation. While most cases settle, some can only be resolved with trial.
Whether your case settles or proceeds to trial will depend on the facts presented and your decisions as a client.
In many cases, we are able to negotiate a full return of all seized money. In others, we are able to negotiate a partial return. It all depends on the specific facts we are dealing with.
The skill of a Civil Forfeiture Defense Attorney is to identify the defenses, cultivate the evidence, assemble a case theory, and execute a winning litigation strategy.
Step Four: Jury Trial
If your case does not settle, then it will eventually resolve with a trial. In both Florida and Federal courts, claimants in Civil Forfeiture cases have the right to demand a jury trial.
When this occurs, the Government has burden of proof. Under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the burden is to prove that the seized money was used to commit a crime or is the proceeds of crime, beyond a reasonable doubt (90% or more).
In Federal courts, the burden is lower. While the Government must still prove the money was used to commit a crime or is the proceeds of crime, the burden is by a “preponderance of the evidence” (51% or more).
Attorneys Fees in Civil Forfeiture Cases
If hired to fight for your money back, we charge no attorney fee or costs unless we recover money. Our fees are based on a percentage of what is recovered and our costs of litigation (money we spend to fight the case, such as court reporter fees) are refunded from the winnings. You should know that we do our best to minimize costs as much as possible.
At the end of the day, we want you to get as much of your money back as possible while charging a reasonable fee for our service.
Here’s the Good News: If we win your Civil Forfeiture case after trial in Federal court, you are entitled attorneys fees, costs, and interest from the Government!
Unfortunately, Florida courts (and other states) make it very hard, if not impossible, to obtain attorneys fees (and when you do they may be capped).
Have a Case? Contact Us!
Was your FedEx or UPS Package Seized by Police? Call us for a free consultation: 954-462-3636