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Asset Forfeiture Defense

Criminal Attorneys Representing Residents of Tacoma and Surrounding Areas

In addition to facing criminal penalties, a person convicted of or merely suspected of a crime may be forced to forfeit certain assets. Under state and federal laws, governmental agencies are permitted to seize any assets that they believe are related to the commission of a crime or were obtained through criminal activity. Although the law permits the government to seize people’s assets, individuals faced with potential asset forfeiture have important rights. You can fight to retain your property with the assistance of our Tacoma asset forfeiture defense lawyers.

At the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, we are proficient in contesting asset forfeiture. We regularly represent individuals in these matters throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. We are mindful that many people seeking assistance with asset forfeiture defense have lost some or all of their property. Therefore, we take asset forfeiture cases on a contingency basis, so there is no cost to our clients.

Washington Asset Forfeiture Laws

Although assets can be seized in connection with criminal convictions, the majority of asset seizures are civil in nature. Washington’s civil forfeiture laws allow the government to seize property that it believes is connected to criminal activity in a civil proceeding. Most often, Washington civil asset forfeitures are pursued under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.50.505. Under this provision, numerous assets can be seized from a person who is charged with or suspected of a drug offense, including controlled substances, raw materials used to create controlled substances, vehicles used to aid in the sale of controlled substances, and any money or securities involved in or obtained from a controlled substance crime. Real estate also can be seized under 69.50.505.

Property can be seized under other statutory provisions, and our asset forfeiture defense attorneys can assist Tacoma residents in these situations as well. For example, under RCW 10.105.010, property can be seized if it was used or intended to be used in the commission of a felony, or if it was a reward or compensation for committing a felony.

Asset Forfeiture Defense

Under Washington law, there are numerous defenses that a person potentially can raise in civil forfeiture proceedings. For example, under the innocent owner defense, the person can argue that the property in question was obtained through legal means or that he or she did not permit the property to be used to engage in criminal activity. A person can also fight asset forfeiture by showing that the statute failed to comply with the notice and deadline requirements set forth under the law. Under both RCW 10.105.010(3) and RCW 69.50.505(3), the government must notify a person of the seizure of his or her assets within 15 days of the seizure. If the government fails to provide proper notice, the seizure may be improper.

Our Tacoma asset forfeiture defense attorneys also may be able to defend against asset forfeiture by showing that the state lacks the evidence needed to seize or keep an individual’s assets. The government agency that seizes a person’s property must have probable cause to believe that the property is related to criminal activity or was involved in a crime prior to seizing the property. If the entity that seized a person’s assets cannot meet this burden, the seizure may be improper. Similarly, to retain a person’s property, the government must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to perpetrate a crime or was obtained through criminal acts. Although the government’s burden of proof in asset forfeiture cases is not as high as the burden in criminal cases, it is still a meaningful burden. If the government fails to meet this burden, a person may be able to successfully argue for the return of his or her property. Speak with a Knowledgeable Washington Attorney Regarding Your Options

Asset forfeiture is often unjust, and the process of fighting for the return of your property can be complicated and extended. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC will work diligently to help prove that your assets were inappropriately seized. We work on a contingency basis, which means that there is no cost to you unless your assets are recovered. We have an office in Tacoma, and we can meet clients by appointment at our second office in Vashon. You can contact us at 253-203-1645 or through the form online to set up a meeting with an asset forfeiture defense lawyer in the Tacoma area.

Client Reviews
I was represented by James White and have been nothing but satisfied with the outcome. Jame is very efficient and eliminates much of the stress that the judicial system can place on an offender. I am very grateful to have such a great attorney and owe him my gratitude for helping me when times were rough. Not only is he professional, but he is also someone you can talk to on a personal level. I highly recommend James White and would undoubtedly use him again in the future. If you are in search of an attorney, do yourself a favor and have the law offices of Smith & White represent you. Mike D.
I contacted James after my charge for reckless endangerment, and right from the start he was informative and reassuring. James worked hard to get me the best possible outcome, and was always very quick to return a call or text. He was straightforward and honest with me about my case, explaining both the good and the bad in a way that was reassuring without being misleading. Overall, I highly recommend Smith and White to anyone who is looking for the most professional representation in their legal matters. Matthew B.
Attorney James White was a beacon of hope for me at a time when my options appeared limited and the likeness of a satisfactory resolution seemed close to nothing. Not only was he able to defend me in a specific sticky situation in which I hired him for, I felt as though he also went above and beyond in efforts to provide me with the best outcome possible. His calm and professional demeanor offered such a great assurance to myself and those I care about around me. I am completely grateful for his service and I most definitely recommend Mr. White. Leyasha J.
Derek Smith guided us through a troubling legal situation with absolute professionalism. This was my first experience with a trial situation and Mr. Smith was able to address all of my questions and concerns in a way that helped address some of the fear I had regarding the legal system. Mr. Smith was highly effective during the trial and the result ended up in our favor. Legal troubles are scary and it was great knowing we had a fantastic legal team on our side to help navigate the somewhat confusing situation. My wife and I emphatically recommend this law firm. Steve B.
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!! Melika