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Sammis Law Firm

Seizures of Bank Accounts

What happens if funds in a bank account are seized because of an alleged violation of Florida law, the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or federal law under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1029, 500, and 513?

Funds from a bank account might be seized for forfeiture under federal law by federal agencies including the United States Secret Service (USSS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

When the authorities with the state or federal government seize money directly from a bank account, the bank records might show a large number of cash deposits under the $10,000 threshold that must be reported to the government.

Alternatively, law enforcement officers might look for evidence that money in a bank account was obtained from the fraudulent use of access devices, counterfeited money orders, or other counterfeited securities, in violation of state and federal law.

The United States Secret Service has begun seizing funds from bank accounts based on allegations of fraudulently obtained PPP loans or fraudulently obtained COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loans related to the Cares Act. Seizures in these cases are based on violations of Titles 18 USC 1014 (loan or credit application fraud) or 18 USC 1343 (wire fraud).

Pursuant to the notice requirement in § 932.703(2)(a), Florida Statutes, the agency must notify the owner of the account about the seizure. Under federal law, CAFRA has similar notice requirements listed in 18 USC 981. In some cases, the notice is sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.

If you file a verified claim for the money seized, then an attorney for the law enforcement agency that seized the funds from the bank account might file a Complaint/Petition for Judgment of Forfeiture (“Complaint”) under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act or a federal statute.

The allegations in the Complaint are often verified by the law enforcement officer, detective, or special agent that investigated the case.

Attorney for Bank Account Seizures for Forfeiture in Florida

If you received a notice that a local, state, or federal government agency seized funds from your bank account for forfeiture, then contact attorney Leslie Sammis, an experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

For more than ten years, our main office has been located at the same location in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey, FL.

The notice that funds were seized for forfeitures from bank accounts explains that a forfeiture action is pending.

In federal asset forfeiture cases, we represent clients throughout the state of Florida and the United States. We help our clients file a verified claim for the funds.

If the funds were seized by a federal agency, you can immediately file a verified claim for court action which triggers a 90 day deadline for the agency to either refund the money or file a complaint in the U.S. District Court.

For forfeitures under state law, any person entitled to notice as to the seizure of the funds from the bank account and those who have standing to contest the seizure may request an adversarial preliminary hearing within 15 days in a civil asset forfeiture proceeding.

Act quickly. If you want to contest the seizure of funds in a bank account, your best chance of getting the money back quickly often requires demanding an adversarial preliminary hearing immediately after receiving the notice or filing a claim.

Do NOT waive until the end of the 15 days because you must ensure the demand for an adversarial preliminary hearing is actually RECEIVED within the time provided.

An attorney can help you file a timely demand for the adversarial preliminary hearing by notifying the agency’s counsel, in writing, via certified mail, return receipt requested, within 15 days of receiving any Notice of Seizure.

If the demand is not timely or otherwise invalid, you might inadvertently waive your right to an adversarial hearing. We can help you file a claim for the seized property and litigate a demand for the adversarial preliminary hearing.

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


Seizures of Bank Accounts by the US Secret Service

What happens if the United States Secret Service (USSS) seized funds from your bank account for civil asset forfeiture proceedings?

If your bank account is seized, you might receive a letter from the customer outreach department at their bank explaining how much money was seized from your bank account and instructions on how to challenge the seizure.

Instead of representing yourself by submitting a petition for remission or mitigation, the better course of action is retaining an attorney to help you submit a verified claim form.

The notice of seizure might claim that the money was seized for forfeiture by the United States Secret Service (USSS) from a US bank pursuant to Title 18 USC 981 as properties that were used or acquired by violation of Title 18 USC 1343 (the federal wire fraud statute).

Read more about seizures for forfeitures of bank accounts by the US Secret Service.


Ex Parte Order of Seizure for a Bank Account

At the state level, a state or local agency might file an “Emergency Ex Parte Request for an Order of Seizure for the Contents of a Bank Account.” In the “Order of Seizure,” the Court might direct the agency to:

  • seize and/or secure all funds available in the Bank Accounts; and
  • hold the U.S. Currency obtained from those Bank Accounts pending a Final Judgment consistent with the statutory requirements of Sections 932.701-932.706 of the Florida Statutes.

The basis for such an order requires a finding that the money in the bank accounts was alleged to contain contraband proceeds from the criminal activity which is subject to seizure and forfeiture pursuant to Section 932.703(1) of the Florida Statutes.


The Complaint and Petition for Judgment of Forfeiture

After the agency files its Amended Complaint/Petition for Judgment of Forfeiture which are verified by affidavits, the court might enter an order finding that the City had established probable cause to maintain this forfeiture action regarding the bank accounts.

The court will consider whether the deposits into the bank account significantly exceed the annual gross income (“AGI”) that the owner of the bank account reported to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).

The court will also consider whether the owner of the bank account alleges any facts that would legitimize any unreported income or rebut the agency’s allegations that the currency in the Bank Accounts constitutes the proceeds of criminal conduct.


Conclusion

Under Florida law, the funds in a bank account might be seized as a contraband article used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act pursuant to Section 932.701, Florida Statutes. The funds in the bank account might be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

Our forfeiture attorneys can help you show that the funds are not the proceeds of criminal activity and that the agency did not have probable cause to maintain the forfeiture action. Act quickly before the court orders the funds from the Bank Account to be forfeited to the agency that seized it.

Even if a showing of probable cause has been made, we can help you meet the burden of rebutting the probable cause showing, demonstrating why the forfeiture statute was not violated, or showing an affirmative defense that entitles the claimant to repossession of the item.


This article was last updated on Friday, September 10, 2021.

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