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Seizures of Bank Accounts

What happens if funds in a bank account are frozen, blocked, or seized because of an alleged violation of Florida law, the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or federal law under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) and 31 U.S.C. § 5317(c)(2) or 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 in violation of state and federal law from the fraudulent use of access devices, counterfeited money orders, or other counterfeited securities.

Additionally, 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.

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 to demand court action regarding 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 legal 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 or the garnishment processor working at the bank. The letter explains 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 to retain an attorney to help you submit a verified “claim for court action” 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 and verified affidavits in support of the complaint, the court might enter an order finding that the agency 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.


Seizure Warrant for Funds in Bank Account

The garnishment processor working at the bank might send you a letter explaining that the bank has received a legal document directing it to freeze and block your accounts with the bank.

The hold will typically remain on the account unless the bank receives:

  • a court order directing the bank not to comply with the document; or
  • a written direction from the party that delivered these papers excusing the bank from compliance

Federal agents might request a Seizure Warrant from a judge in the United States District Court concerning money in a bank account after alleging the money is subject to seizure and forfeiture pursuant to 18 USC 981(a)(1)(C) and 982(b) and 984 and 21 USC 853(f) concerning a violation of Title 18 USC 1341 and 1343.

The warrant request might include an affidavit and recorded testimony establishing probable cause to believe the property is subject to seizure and that grounds exist for the issuance of a search warrant.

The seizure warrant might order the bank to accept all incoming credits to the account listed above while not allowing any withdrawals or other disbursement of funds for 14 days after the warrant is issued.

The seizure warrant might order the bank to deliver the funds immediately and upon presentation of this warrant to the law enforcement agency serving the warrant in the form of a cashier’s check made payable to the United States Marshal Service.

The seizure warrant might command the bank to seize the property, leave a copy of the warrant and receipt for the property seized and prepare a written inventory of the property seized, and return this warrant through a filing with the clerk’s office.

The clerk might issue a Warrant for Arrest for the defendant funds obtained from the bank.

In these cases, the federal agency is seeking the entry of a Final Judgment of Forfeiture, for the U.S. Currency, together with any interest that may have accrued on the total amount seized so that it can be forfeited to the United States government pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), to be disposed of according to federal law.


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.


Sample Application for Seizure Warrant in State Court

Seizures from bank accounts are so common under state law, that the authorities have created sample forms for seizure warrants including the form listed below.

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE ____ JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR COUNTY COUNTY, FLORIDA

 

AGENCY CR #: 00-00-000000

STATE OF FLORIDA,

PLAINTIFF,

vs.

IN RE: United States Currency contained in BANK NAME accounts belonging to:

SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth: SUSPECT DOB

DEFENDANT(S).

AFFIDAVIT AND APPLICATION FOR SEARCH AND SEIZURE WARRANT

_____________________________________________/

BEFORE ME, the undersigned Judge of the Circuit Court of the _____ Judicial Circuit, in and for COUNTY County, Florida, appeared this sworn affidavit and application by YOUR RANK YOUR NAME of the YOUR AGENCY, who was first duly sworn, deposes and says that HE/SHE (YOU) has probable cause to believe, and does believe, that within the premises described as:

BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida, and specifically accounts belonging to SUSPECT(S), SUSPECT(S) DOB,

there exists the below-described property which was used as a means to commit a crime, or which constitutes evidence relevant to proving felonies have been committed, and/or are proceeds from criminal activity or unlawfully obtained funds located in COUNTY County, Florida, to wit:

WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE IN THE ACCOUNT (United States Currency, an undetermined amount), (the content of safety deposit box), ETC. hereinafter referred to as “the Property,”

And that “the Property” has been obtained in and/or is being kept and/or used in violation of the laws of the State of Florida, to wit:

  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE
  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE
  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE

THE BASIS FOR YOUR AFFIANT’S BELIEF IS AS FOLLOWS:

Your Affiant, YOUR RANK YOUR NAME (hereinafter referred to as YA), is a duly sworn law enforcement officer employed by the AGENCY and has been since HIRE DATE.

YA successfully completed Basic Law Enforcement Training at ACADEMY YOU ATTENDED in CITY WHERE YOU ATTENDED, COUNTY WHERE YOU ATTENDED County, Florida.

YA served as SUMMARIZE YOUR LEO WORK EXPERIENCE. YA has attended SUMMARIZE SPECIAL TRAINING & LEO CLASSES INCLUDING APPROXIMATE DATES OF COMPLETION.

By HIS/HER training and experience, SUMMARIZE SPECIAL QUALIFICATIONS BASED ON ABOVE TRAINING – IE, FAMILIARITY WITH CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES, ETC.

YA is currently assigned to CURRENT ASSIGNMENT and has been assigned to investigate various criminal offenses including, but not limited to, YOUR CASE LOAD since MONTH, YEAR YOUR CURRENT ASSIGNMENT BEGAN.

SUMMARIZE YOUR CASE HERE

YA knows, based on training and experience, that it is common for individuals involved in illegal activities involving United States Currency to hide, or attempt to hide, the illegal source of the money, so it may be used in later, legitimate transactions. One common method of hiding the illegal nature of the source of money is to place the money into an account with a legitimate financial institution.

BASED ON THE FOREGOING, YA has reason to believe and does believe that the premises in question have contained in the past, and do contain now, certain instrumentalities and contraband which constitute a violation of the laws of the State of Florida, or certain evidence which constitutes proof of a violation of the laws of the State of Florida, and based upon the foregoing requests issuance of a search warrant for the above-described premises to allow seizure of the above-described items.

ALL OF WHICH WHEREFORE, YA prays that a search warrant be issued according to law, commanding the Sheriff and/or duly constituted Deputy Sheriffs of Alachua County, Florida, and/or Detectives and/or Law enforcement officers of the LIST ALL LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES THAT COULD POTENTIALLY HELP SERVE WARRANT and/or Special Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and/or Special Agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and/or Special Agents of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and/or any of their duly constituted Agents, with necessary and proper assistance, to search the above-described premises for the above-described items, and for the search, seizure, and safekeeping thereof, either in the daytime or night-time, or on Sunday, as the exigencies of the occasion may demand, in order that the evidence may be procured to be used in the prosecution of such person or persons unlawfully possessing or using the same in violation of the laws of the State of Florida.

WHEREFORE, Affiant makes this affidavit and prays for the issuance of a Search and Seizure Warrant to freeze the movement of money in said accounts.

____________________________________

YOUR RANK YOUR NAME, Affiant

Sworn to and subscribed to before me this ____ day of MONTH, 20__.

_____________________________________

Notary or Assistant State Attorney

The above application for search warrant coming on to be heard and having examined the application made under oath and the above sworn affidavit set forth and other facts and thereupon being satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that the grounds set forth in said application and facts do exist and that the law is being violated as alleged, I so find, and a search warrant is hereby allowed and issued.

_____________________________________

Circuit Judge

Reviewed by: _________________________________

ATTORNEY NAME,

Assistant State Attorney


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT _____ JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR COUNTY COUNTY, FLORIDA

AGENCY CR #: 00-00-000000

STATE OF FLORIDA,

vs.

IN RE: United States Currency contained in BANK NAME accounts belonging to:

SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth: SUSPECT DOB

DEFENDANT(S).

SEARCH AND SEIZURE WARRANT

_____________________________________________/
IN THE NAME AND BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA.

TO: ALL AND SINGULAR THE SHERIFF AND/OR DULY CONSTITUTED DEPUTY SHERIFFS OF COUNTY COUNTY, FLORIDA, AND/OR DETECTIVES AND/OR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OF THE LIST ALL LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND/OR SPECIAL AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, AND/OR SPECIAL AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES, AND/OR ANY OF THEIR DULY CONSTITUTED AGENTS

WHEREAS, complaint on oath and in writing supported by affidavit has been made to me, the undersigned Judge of COUNTY County, Florida, by YOUR RANK YOUR NAME, a law enforcement officer employed by the YOUR AGENCY, who was first duly Sworn, deposes and says that HE/SHE (YOU) has reason to believe the laws of the State of Florida have been violated and are now being violated and there is now being kept in or on the below-described premises and/or the curtilage of the same certain evidence, fruits, or instrumentalities of that crime to be found in or on the following described premises located in COUNTY County, Florida:

EXACT SAME ITEM DESCRIPTION FROM PAGE 1

SAID PREMISES being in the County of COUNTY, State of Florida, and being in the control of BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida, and specifically any account under the name SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth SUSPECT(S) DOB, and Affiant having stated probable cause to believe that the following described items are upon/within said BANK NAME, the following Property is to be seized:

WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE IN THE ACCOUNT (United States Currency, an undetermined amount), (the content of safety deposit box), ETC.

ALL OF WHICH is being kept and/or was used and/or obtained in and/or is evidence of a violation of the laws of the State of Florida, And that “the Property” has been and is being kept and used in violation of the laws of the State of Florida, to wit:

  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE
  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE
  • Florida Statute STATUTE # – OFFENSE

AND, as I am satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that “The Property” is located within BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida, and specifically any account under the name of SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth SUSPECT(S) DOB, I expressly find probable cause for the issuance of this Search Warrant based upon the Application and Affidavit for Search Warrant.

NOW THEREFORE, you or either of you, YOUR RANK YOUR NAME and officers with the above agencies, with such lawful assistance as may be necessary, are hereby commanded, in the daytime or in the nighttime, or on Sunday or as the exigencies of the occasion may demand to enter  BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida, and specifically any account under the name SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth SUSPECT(S) DOB, and search for ‘the Property,”

AND, if “the Property” be found, YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to seize and secure same, giving proper receipt therefore and delivering a true copy of this Search Warrant to an officer in charge of that branch of the BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida,

AND to make return of your doings under this warrant to a court with jurisdiction within ten (10) days from the date hereof, and you are further directed to bring said property so found and any person arrested in connection therewith, before the court having jurisdiction of this offense to be disposed of according to law. You, or either of you, with such lawful assistance as may be necessary, are also authorized and commanded to search those vehicles and structures which you may encounter on the premises or curtilage thereof, and any person reasonably believed to be in possession of an item to be seized, pursuant to the execution of this warrant.

This Warrant specifically authorizes that the evidence seized hereunder remains in the physical possession of BANK NAME, and said evidence shall be deemed to be in the constructive custody of this Court, and shall not be disposed of, disbursed, or transferred except by Order of the Court having jurisdiction over this offense, upon application of the YOUR AGENCY or the State Attorney, ______ Judicial Circuit, upon disposition of this offense.

WITNESS, my hand and official seal this ___ day of MONTH, 20__.
________________________________

CIRCUIT JUDGE


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT _______ JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR COUNTY COUNTY, FLORIDA

AGENCY CR #: 00-00-000000

STATE OF FLORIDA,

PLAINTIFF,
vs.

IN RE: United States Currency contained in BANK NAME accounts belonging to:

SUSPECT(S), Date of Birth: SUSPECT DOB

DEFENDANT(S).

________________________________
BANK OFFICER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF ACCEPTANCE OF SEARCH WARRANT

I, _______________________________, acknowledge receipt of the Search and Seizure Warrant issued on DATE COURT SIGNED, in the above-styled case, which directs the seizure and securing of the contents of account number: any account under the name SUSPECT(S) NAME, Date of Birth SUSPECT DOB, at BANK NAME, BANK ADDRESS, CITY, Florida, to-wit: a minimum of approximately $____________ with the current amount at the time of this signing being ____________.

On behalf of BANK NAME, I agree to hold the funds allocated to this account on behalf of the Circuit Court of the _____ Judicial Circuit, in and for COUNTY County, Florida, as provided for in the aforementioned warrant.

I understand that the funds contained therein are in the constructive custody of said Court, and that no use or disbursement of them may be made without the further written Order of the Court.

I understand that if any unauthorized use or disbursement of the funds contained in these accounts occurs, I, and BANK NAME, may be liable to the Court for proceedings in Contempt of Court.

Date:

(signature and title of bank officer)

Date:

(witness signature)


This article was last updated on Monday, March 28, 2022.

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