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Warrant for Arrest “In Rem

Various forms of process can be used by the government to seize property, including a warrant of arrest in rem. The term “in rem” means “power of the thing.”

In many civil judicial cases, the federal court has the option of exercising in rem jurisdiction over property by issuing warrants of arrest in rem. The in rem arrest warrant is then executed by the federal agency that makes the seizure.

The federal agencies that might make an in rem seizure include the FBI, DEA, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Attorney to Contest the In Rem Warrant of Warrant

If your property was subject to an In Rem Warrant for Arrest, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Our main office is located in Tampa, FL. We have additional offices in New Port Richey in Pasco County and Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.

We help clients throughout the State of Florida, particularly in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Contact us to find out more about the restraint and seizure of real property. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in challenging these seizures.

We understand the procedures and policies involved in assets seized by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Call 813-250-0500.

Procedures for an In Rem Warrant of Arrest

The procedures that apply when the court issues an in rem arrest warrant can be found in Rule G(3) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.

As explained in the Rule G(3)(a)(iii) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions, an arrest warrant is NOT needed if the property is already subject to a pre-trial restraining order.

When a Civil Forfeiture Matter is Pending

If a civil forfeiture matter is pending, then the seizure of property pursuant to a warrant of arrest in rem under Supplemental Rule G(3)(b)(ii) provides a valid basis for the Government’s physical possession of property pending the outcome of a criminal forfeiture proceeding.

As explained in 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(3)(B), if a person challenges the seizure of property by filing a claim in an administrative forfeiture proceeding, the Government has 90 days to:

  1. return the property;
  2. initiate a criminal forfeiture action; or
  3. initiate a civil forfeiture action.

In some cases, the government will file both a civil action and a criminal action within the 90-day period. If so, the civil seizure warrant and arrest warrant in rem might provide a valid basis for the government’s continued possession of the property while the action is pending.

To ensure that the court obtains in rem jurisdiction, the government must obtain an arrest warrant in rem and serve the in rem arrest warrant on the property either by actual or constructive seizure of the property.

Procedures to Issue an In Rem Arrest Warrant

The procedures for issuing a warrant depend on whether the property is already in the government’s custody at the time the complaint is filed.

When the property is already in the government’s custody and control, then the warrant might be issued by the clerk of the court without any finding of probable cause by a judge or magistrate judge.

When the property is not in the government’s custody and control, the warrant has the effect of taking the property out of the hands of a non-Government entity.

The warrant must be issued by the court only upon a finding of probable cause as required in Supplemental Rule G(3)(b).

If probable cause is found and the warrant is issued by the court, then it must be delivered “to a person or organization authorized to execute it” as explained in Supplemental Rule G(3)(C).

Who is Responsible for Execution of the In Rem Warrant of Arrest?

In most circumstances, the agency with the responsibility of executing process belongs to the USMS.

This federal agency is responsible for the execution of warrants of arrest in rem. On the other hand, the individual department investigative agency has the main responsibility for the execution of seizure warrants.

The USMS and investigative agencies are required to coordinate the execution of process.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

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