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Sammis Law Firm

Fighting Seizures by U.S. Secret Service

If your property was seized by the United States Secret Service (USSS) for forfeiture pursuant to title 18 USC 981, then the Secret Service is alleging that it had probable cause that the money was used in an illegal money laundering or drug trafficking scheme.

After the seizure, our asset forfeiture attorneys can help you contest the legality of the forfeiture and fight to get the money back quickly. Within 60 days of the seizure, the USSS is required to send a “notice of seizure” form that gives you the following three options:

  1. You may agree to the forfeiture and petition the USSS for return/remission of the forfeited property by filing the attached “Petition for Remission/Mitigation” Form.
  2. You may disagree with the forfeiture and seek to contest it in the United States District Court by filing a claim with the attached “Seized Asset Claim Form.”
  3. You may have no interest in this property and therefore do not need to respond to this letter in any matter.

In addition to mailing a personal notice, the Secret Service must also publish details about the seizure online.

Contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm to find out why we recommend the second option which involves filing a verified claim to demanding court action. Filing the verified claim for court action is the ONLY way to contest the forfeiture. Strict deadlines apply so act quickly.

Attorneys for Seizures for Forfeitures by the U.S. Secret Service

If the U.S. Secret Service gave you notice that your property was seized for forfeiture in accordance with Title 18, U.S.C., Section 981, then contact us about the benefits of filing a verified claim for court action in the U.S. District Court.

Filing that verified claim triggers a 90-day deadline for the agency to either RETURN 100% of the money or cause an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) to file a complaint for forfeiture in the U.S. District Court. The laws for the forfeiture process in federal court can be found at 18 U.S.C. §§981-984 and 19 U.S.C. §§1602, et seq.

Filing a verified claim with the U.S. Secret Service on or date indicated in the notice is the ONLY was to contest the forfeiture of the property in U.S. District Court. The claim must be RECEIVED by the U.S. Secret Service (actually in their hands) by that deadline.

Our attorneys can make sure that your claim meets the requirements set forth in 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(2)(C) and that it is properly filed with the Secret Service Asset Forfeiture Division by the date indicated in the notice.

We can also gather the evidence needed to show the initial seizure was ILLEGAL or that insufficient evidence exists to support the forfeiture action.

Call 813-250-0500.

How to File a Verified Claim for Court Action to Get the Money Back for USSS

Our attorneys can help you properly prepare the verified claim form and deliver it to the Secret Service Asset Forfeiture Division at the address listed in the notice. The verified claim for court action, hardship petitions, and/or petitions for remission or mitigation must be sent to the address listed in the notice which might include:

U.S. Secret Service
Communications Center – AFD
Attention: Secret Service Asset Forfeiture Division
245 Murray Lane, SW, Building T-5
Washington, D.C. 20223
Phone: (202) 406-7222

After filing a verified claim, we can help you demand the immediate release of the seized property by filing a hardship petition in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §983(f).

The Department of Homeland Security has three components with seizure and forfeiture authority including the United States Secret Service (USSS), the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The USSS Asset Forfeiture Manual

The United States Secret Service uses its Asset Forfeiture Manual for guidance on enforcement actions regarding liquidated damages, penalties, fines, and seizures.

As explained in the USSS Asset Forfeiture Manual, after the property is seized, the USSS through the DHS must send the property owner and any other parties that may have an interest in the property a written notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit. The notice explains the options to file a petition, file a claim, or do nothing.

Property owners might file petitions if they agree their property is subject to forfeiture, but are seeking its partial or full return. Filing the petition and using the administrative proceeds rarely result in the return of the property.

The better court of action is to file a claim for court action which is the ONLY way to force the speedy return of the property or contest the seizure in court when the property owner believes the initial seizure was illegally conducted.

The claim is also the only way to contest whether the government has enough proof that the property was involved in illegal activity.

Problems with Filing a Petition for Remission or Mitigation to the USSS

Contact us to find out the problems with filing a Petition for Remission or Mitigation of the Forfeiture with the U.S. Secret Service. Those administrative procedures often result in NO MONEY being returned at all.

By filing a petition for mitigation or remission, you are basically stipulating that the seizure was lawful and that you do NOT want to contest the forfeiture.

Instead, by asking for remission or mitigation, you are only allowed to ask for a portion of the property to be returned and only if you have proper documentation of your interest in the property that includes facts and circumstances justifying the return of the property.

Additional Resources

Official Notifications of Seizures for Forfeiture by the Secret Service – Visit the government website to find a list of cases published in a pdf in which federal agents with the Secret Service have seized valuable property, including U.S. Currency and the funds from bank accounts. The official notification includes information about how to file a demand for court action and judicial referral.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

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