Government Pays Your Attorney Fees
Washington's civil asset forfeiture laws allow governmental agencies to seize a person's property upon a mere suspicion of criminal activity. A skilled Tacoma asset forfeiture defense lawyer can set forth arguments against the seizure and forfeiture of a person’s assets, but many people are hesitant to incur the cost of an attorney in addition to the financial harm posed by a potential loss of assets. Under Washington law, however, you should be able to recover the cost of attorney fees if you prove that the seizure and forfeiture of your assets was unjust. Thus, it is vital to meet with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your potential defenses to the forfeiture of your assets. At the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, we have ample experience fighting against unwarranted asset forfeiture and will work tirelessly to help you protect your property. We represent people in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.Washington’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Law
Although Washington law provides for the criminal seizure and forfeiture of assets related to the commission of certain crimes, the majority of asset seizures and forfeitures in Washington are civil in nature. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.50.505 sets forth the parameters and procedures for civil asset forfeiture. Under RCW 69.50.505, a governmental agency can confiscate a person’s assets if the assets were used in connection with a drug crime, or if the assets are proceeds of a drug crime or were purchased with the proceeds of a drug crime.
Assets that may be seized include controlled substances and any materials used to manufacture or distribute controlled substances. The government can also seize any vehicle or conveyance used to facilitate the sale of any controlled substance. For example, if the government believes that a person used a car or boat to transport drugs, the car or boat can be seized. The government can also seize any money or securities that it believes were acquired via transactions pertaining to drug crimes, as well as real and personal property. The stakes are high in asset forfeiture proceedings, and they can result in the loss of substantial assets if the government is successful. If you are faced with the loss of your property, therefore, you should contact an experienced defense lawyer.Grounds for Recovering Attorney Fees
Allowing property owners to recover attorney fees is crucial to enabling them to mount a competent defense against the forfeiture of their assets without needing to worry about the cost of an attorney. The attorney fees provision of RCW 69.50.505 is designed to protect individuals from the wrongful seizure of their property. Under RCW 69.50.505, a person who wins in his or her civil asset forfeiture case is entitled to attorney fees.
Specifically, RCW 69.50.505 provides that if a person whose assets have been seized substantially prevails in a forfeiture hearing, he or she is entitled to compensation for reasonable attorney fees. In other words, if the government institutes asset forfeiture proceedings, and the property owner proves that the property was wrongfully seized, the property owner is not only granted the return of his or her property but also reimbursed for the costs incurred in hiring an attorney to fight for the return of the property.Contingent Fee
In addition to having the government pay your attorneys’ fees, the Attorneys at Smith & White PLLC will handle your forfeiture matter on a contingency fee basis. That means you do not pay attorneys fees unless Smith & White win your case. The contingency fee plus the fee recovery means you can recover your property with little to no cost to you.Retain a Seasoned Criminal Attorney in the Tacoma Area
People threatened with civil asset forfeiture are often concerned about incurring legal costs to protect their property, but compelling legal arguments may be necessary to effectively protect property from an unjust seizure. The assertive Tacoma attorneys at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC can provide you with a thorough defense against the forfeiture of your assets. Additionally, we take asset forfeiture cases on a contingency basis, so you do not incur any legal costs for our representation. Our main office is in Tacoma, and we have a second office in Vashon, at which we are available by appointment. We can be contacted through our online form or at 253-203-1645 to set up a consultation to discuss your legal needs.