When you are accused of a crime, prosecutors will file criminal charges
against you. In a
criminal case you have certain constitutional protections and the State must prove every
single element of a criminal case "beyond a reasonable doubt."
This is the heaviest burden of proof that the Law can impose.
But often, someone accused of a crime has more legal difficulties to deal
with than just a criminal case. The prosecutor may also file a forfeiture
case in which the prosecutor attempts to seize property that is allegedly
connected - directly or indirectly - with criminal activity. A forfeiture
proceeding is a civil case, not a criminal case. This means that you lose
a lot of important constitutional protections, including the right to
free counsel. It also means that the prosecutor has to prove their case
by "a preponderance of the evidence." This is one of the easiest
standards to satisfy under the Law.
Things that you or your family say,
or do not say, in the forfeiture case can have a devastating impact on your criminal
case. So, a forfeiture case can help to land someone in jail. That is
why it is important to have an attorney who understands both criminal
law and civil forfeiture proceedings involved in both matters. But, can
foreiture proceedings help keep someone out of prison?
Having an attorney with criminal defense
and forfeiture defense experience will help protect your property, and keep
the State from obtaining evidence in the forfeiture case which it can
then use against you in the civil case. However, having an experienced
attorney involved in both cases also gives an attorney the chance to think
outside the box, and use the forfeiture matter as leverage in defending
Consider the case of Derek Ragan, a convicted drug dealer and gambler,
who was facing more than 40 years in prison after police raided his restaurant.
Prosecutors alleged that he was running an illegal gambling house and
seized almost $1 million in cash from the restaurant. In a creative plea
deal, Ragan agreed to forfeit the money seized by police, and rather than
spending decades in prison, he received probation.
If you have received a notice that authorities are trying to freeze or
seize the property of you, or someone you know, you should immediately
contact a lawyer who has experience with criminal defense and forfeiture
proceedings in Philadelphia.
Mike Parkinson and
Tim Tarpey are criminal defense attorneys and former Philadelphia Assistant District
Attorneys who have extensive experience in criminal
and civil forfeiture cases. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense
attorney is the only way to understand your rights and protect yourself,
your family, and your hard earned property.
Call today for a free consultation at (215) 352-3432.