There are numerous civil and criminal laws used by the U.S. government to forfeit property, under many different theories that include drug proceeds, property that "facilitates" drug transactions, money laundering, domestic and international banking transactions, U.S. Customs importation violations, and firearms violations,
to name just a few.
The one key law (or "statute") is the foundation section of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, commonly known as CAFRA, which can be found in Title 18, United States Code, Section 983. This statute provides the framework for the government to seize and seek civil forfeiture of assets, and outlines the general rules and time deadlines for the government to provide a notice of seizure, for the property owner to file a claim to contest forfeiture, for the government to file a forfeiture lawsuit, and for the property owner to file documents to contest the seizure in court. Click on the following link to review this statute: http://codes.findlaw.com/us/title-18-crimes-and-criminal-procedure/18-usc-sect-983.html.
If the U.S. government files a lawsuit, the litigation is governed by Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which outlines the rules for you and the government to exchange evidence, file reports with the Court, take depositions, etc. Click on the following link to review these rules: https://www.federalrulesofcivilprocedure.org/frcp/title-v-disclosures-and-discovery/rule-26-duty-to-disclose-general-provisions-governing-discovery/.
If you win the case, the government is required to pay back the attorney fees you incurred during the litigation, which is discussed in Mr. Honig's 2005 Article Getting Even: The Government’s Liability for Payment of Property Owners’ Attorney Fees in Federal Asset Forfeiture Cases. Click below to review the article. For additional information about laws affecting the seizure and forfeiture of your assets, you can contact attorney Eric Honig for a free initial consultation.