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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, and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1029, 500, and 513.

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

Or the special agents and detectives 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.

When law enforcement officers determine that a bank account contains illicit proceeds of criminal conduct in violation of federal law and Florida law, which then trigger a violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

In these cases, the attorney for the law enforcement agency that seized the funds from the bank account will file a Complaint/Petition for Judgment of Forfeiture (“Complaint”) under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

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

Pursuant to the notice requirement in § 932.703(2)(a), Florida Statutes, the City must notify the owner of the account about the seizure. In some cases, the notice is sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.

Attorney for Bank Account Seizures for Forfeiture in Florida

If you received a notice that law enforcement officers in Florida have seized the funds in your bank account for forfeiture, then contact an experienced 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. We represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Hillsborough County, and Polk County, FL.

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

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.

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 agencies 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.

Ex Parte Order of Seizure for a Bank Account

Many of these cases begin with the agency filing 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 were 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 accounts 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 which entitles the claimant to repossession of the item.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 29, 2020.

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