Preliminary Order of Forfeiture

In a federal criminal case, the government might seek to forfeit property as part of the prosecution of the case. At the time of the plea or anytime thereafter, the government might file a motion for a preliminary order of forfeiture (“POF”). Once the POF motion is filed, the Court might grant the Preliminary Order of Forfeiture.

That motion must be served on the defendant and any third party with a property interest in the property subject to the preliminary order of forfeiture. The defendant only has fourteen (14) days to file a notice of appeal of the POF. After that, the POF becomes final as to the defendant.

Any third party with an interest in the property has the right to file a claim seeking an ancillary hearing to determine their rights before a final order of forfeiture (FOF) is entered by the court.

If you are a third party with an interest in the property, you might receive notice from the government that says:


Enclosed you will find a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture for the above-referenced case in a U.S. District Court. You are receiving this notice because you may have an interest in property included in the Motion for Preliminary Order of Forfeiture and in the attached Order.

Any person, other than the defendant(s) in this case, asserting a legal interest in property that has been ordered forfeited to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853, may within 30 days of the final publication of notice or within 30 days of his/her receipt of this direct notice, petition the Court to adjudicate the validity of his/her alleged interest in the property.

The petition must be filed with the Clerk of the Court, at the following address: __________.

The petition shall be signed by the petitioner under penalty of perjury and shall set forth:

  • the nature and extent of the petitioner’s right, title or interest in the forfeited property;
  • the time and circumstances of the petitioner’s acquisition of the right, title, and interest in the forfeited property; and
  • any additional facts supporting the petitioner’s claim and the relief sought, under 21 U.S.C. § 853(n).

This serves as notice of the pending forfeiture action, and the enclosed document provides directions for filing a claim. If you wish to discuss this matter, please contact the Assistant United States Attorney at ________.

Read more about third party claims in ancillary hearings after a preliminary order of forfeiture is filed in the U.S. District Court.

Attorney for a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture in Federal Court

If you were served with a preliminary order of forfeiture as a third party with an interest in property, contact an experienced asset forfeiture attorney at Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients throughout the federal courts in Florida in civil and criminal asset forfeiture cases.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have offices in Clearwater and New Port Richey.

Let us begin your defense today.

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.