Civil & Criminal Asset Forfeiture Attorney in Dayton, OH

If you live in Dayton, Ohio, you might be surprised to learn that not only can Ohio police seize your personal property, but this property can also be permanently forfeited to the government. It is all perfectly legal, according to Ohio statutes.

Our firm has handled more than 20,000 criminal cases throughout Ohio. We bring to your case a deep familiarity with Dayton and Ohio courts and their personnel. We have developed relationships with key players in the judicial system, including prosecutors, judges, and probation officers. We will use the knowledge we have gained from this exposure to take swift and efficient action on your behalf.

You can count on our knowledge of Ohio’s civil and criminal asset forfeiture laws to guide you through the judicial process. Brian Joslyn extends his criminal law proficiency to journalists for local and national media when they seek such expertise for their news coverage. ABC6, NBC4, FOX23, 10WBNS, The Columbus Dispatch, and The Plain Dealer are among those media outlets that have tapped Brian’s knowledge of criminal law as they research emerging stories.


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Our Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeiture Lawyers Can Help You Reclaim Your Property

If police seized your cash or other property and have taken forfeiture action with the state, you need to know your rights. A lawyer with Joslyn Law Group can take your case, review the circumstances of the seizure and forfeiture action, and inform you of your options for retrieving your assets.

When it comes to civil and criminal forfeiture in Dayton, Ohio, what you do not know can most definitely hurt you.

The Court Will Not Appoint a Lawyer to Help You

For starters, if you face criminal asset forfeiture, which is an in personam action, you must be convicted of a crime before the state can take forfeiture action—and that is a good thing.

However, the forfeiture action is distinct from the judicial proceedings surrounding your commission of a criminal act, and so the state does not guarantee you the right to legal counsel. This means you must find your own lawyer to help you get back your property.

We Will Walk You Through a Complex Process

When you receive notice that the state is pursuing forfeiture action, Joslyn Law Firm will step in and immediately file a motion to reclaim your property. We have represented clients in more than 20,000 criminal cases throughout Ohio. We know the federal and state forfeiture laws, and we will dig deep to ensure that the state is not unlawfully retaining your property in violation of these laws.

Our legal team enjoys a stellar reputation amongst the legal community. Brian Joslyn is noted as a “Top 10 Criminal Lawyer” in Ohio, thanks to this designation from the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. In addition, the National Trial Lawyers Association ranked Joslyn Law Firm a “Top 100” law firm. Our team of dedicated trial veterans includes a former Hamilton County Prosecutor and a former Franklin County Public Defender.

We Will Protect Your Civil Rights 

This team will work aggressively to protect your rights, which can easily be trampled with Ohio’s evolving—but still questionable—civil asset forfeiture laws. Do not assume that the state requires a conviction to take your personal property. Something as easy as failing to fill out the right paperwork at an airport can wind up stripping you of your cash and other assets.

Our lawyers and staff stand ready to protect you and your property. We are here for you—even after hours and on weekends.

Call Joslyn Law Firm today for a free case evaluation: (937) 356-3969.


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Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Dayton Information Center


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Overview of Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Dayton 

Ohio lays out its asset forfeiture laws in the Ohio Revised Code (R.C.) 2981. The laws for seizures and forfeitures reflect changes in the rules that legislators had established in R.C. 2933.41, but which they repealed in 2007. Their objective in establishing the new, unified law was to balance punitive [punishing] and remedial [providing remedy] forfeiture policies with the need to limit law enforcement’s power to undermine private property rights.

Why Section 2981 Laws Exist in Dayton, Ohio

Section 2981 further serves to:

  • Deter crimes with economic remedies and disincentives
  • Establish remedies that prosecutors can use to offset the economic damage of crimes
  • Protect property owners by ensuring that when law enforcement seizes and the state forfeits property, they do so in a manner proportionate to the crime
  • Protect against wrongful forfeiture
  • Set a system for prioritizing restitution for victims of crime

The Ohio Supreme Court has acknowledged that forfeiture statutes represent a “derogation of private property rights” and that they “must be strictly construed” (State v. Lilliock). Notwithstanding this landmark decision, the law still permits law enforcement to seize your personal property and initiate a civil or criminal forfeiture of that property when specific requirements are met. These requirements differ between civil and criminal forfeitures. 

The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Asset Forfeiture

One key characteristic distinguishes criminal and civil asset forfeitures—and it is a big distinction.

Dayton prosecutors can initiate a criminal forfeiture action on your property only after you have been convicted of a crime. Presumably, the property to be forfeited will represent proceeds of or instruments used in the crime for which you have been convicted. At this point, they must notify you of their intent to pursue a forfeiture. The forfeiture trial will happen separate from your criminal trial.

The rules for civil asset forfeitures, on the other hand, get a little muddier. Under Ohio law, a law enforcement officer can seize your personal property simply based on their reasonable suspicion that the property links to some criminal activity.

Most people are shocked to learn that a civil asset forfeiture is an in rem action—against your property, not against you—which is why the action requires neither charges nor a conviction. This practice has received wide criticism, as it lends itself to broad abuses by law enforcement.

HB 347 Offers Some Relief, But Abuses Persist 

In 2017, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich addressed growing criticism of the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws by signing a House Bill 347 (see it on the Ohio Legislature website). HB 347 modifies civil and criminal asset forfeitures laws.

The modified forfeiture system outlines instances in which cash or property require a criminal conviction before they can be forfeited. It also raises the burden of proof required for prosecutors to the highest standard in civil courts—clear and convincing evidence. Finally, the bill shifts the burden of proof from property owners to the government.

HB 347 takes steps to protect innocent property owners, according to the Institute for Justice. However, some law enforcement officers continue to abuse the system, holding on to seized assets and forcing property owners through a course of legal gymnastics in order to reclaim what rightfully belongs to them.


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Penalties for Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Dayton

One role of Ohio asset forfeitures is to punish you for committing a crime. As such, the forfeiture that follows a criminal conviction serves as part of the punishment for the offense.

Although HB 347 has moved in the direction of protecting innocent Ohioans from having their property taken, there are still provisions in the legislation that enable the government to seize your property without a conviction.

Drug trafficking and money laundering represent the types of crimes commonly connected with police seizing cash or property and later pursuing civil forfeiture actions. If Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) troopers suspect you are carrying cash connected with either of these offenses, and the cash exceeds a certain amount, that amount amounts to probable cause—and the officers can seize it.

Similarly, traveling internationally through Dayton International Airport with large sums of cash, you must report it to an agent using the proper forms. Failure to properly report the money could cost you up to $500,000 in fines. It could also land you up to 10 years in prison.


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Defenses Against Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Ohio

Civil and criminal asset forfeiture actions are complicated, but with so much at stake, it is important that you realize we can fight these actions so the State of Ohio will return your property.

Our lawyers will review the circumstances that led to the seizure of your property and challenge the forfeiture action accordingly. Some of the defenses we might argue include the following:

  • Procedural Violations: Police and prosecutors must adhere to strict policies and procedures for seizing your property, including notifying you that they are taking a forfeiture action. If a deadline is missed or some part of the process is handled incorrectly, it could invalidate the action altogether.
  • Innocence: If you did not commit a criminal offense, then your property is not guilty of being the proceeds of or a facilitator of a criminal offense. This means that prosecutors have no basis for forfeiting your assets.
  • Proportionality: Remember, Ohio laws assert that the value of any seized property must be proportionate to the criminal offense. We can present an argument of disproportionate value, which violates Ohio forfeiture statutes.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: Although Ohio laws dance on the line of your constitutional rights, these laws do not invalidate your guaranteed rights against unlawful searches and seizures. If law enforcement officers failed to uphold these rights, we could have grounds for blocking the forfeiture of your assets.

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Additional Resources for Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Ohio

Forfeiture.gov

Managed by the Department of Justice, Asset Forfeiture Management Staff, this website offers a complete listing of pending notices of civil, criminal, and administrative forfeiture actions pursued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Broder Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service. Visit this site, too, to learn how to file a claim or petition to recover your property. 

U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program

Visit the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture Program (AFP) website to find resources, news, and reports that will help you learn more about how task forces and federal agencies execute forfeitures. The AFP is responsible for the administration of the DOJ Assets Forfeiture Fund and the Seized Assets Deposit Fund, so this group has plenty of information to help your research.

Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office

The Civil Division of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office handles all matters related to the forfeiture and seizure of assets. According to this website, Montgomery County law enforcement agencies benefits from forfeited funds ($130,000 annually) and vehicles (which undercover narcotic agents use). Visit this site to learn more about the Civil Division.

The Institute for Justice “Policing for Profit” Report

This 2020 report is the third edition of the “Policing for Profit” study conducted by the Institute for Justice. The report compiles nationwide data to explore the inherent problems with states’ asset forfeiture laws and programs. Read this report to gain insight into how seized property is tracked, accounted for, and spent—as well as the accessibility of forfeiture records in various states. An especially compelling aspect of the report includes tables that chart state forfeiture revenues. 

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court

This web document lays out all the rules for the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. Here you can learn about the various court divisions, facilities, and trial session times. The page also explains other court rules, including pretrial procedures, discovery, and sale of real estate (judicial or by the Sheriff).   

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture serves as an important tool for the DEA in its efforts to dismantle the economic infrastructure of money laundering and drug trafficking groups. Study this website to learn how the DEA defines asset forfeiture, including its effects and types. The site also delves into how asset forfeiture reconciles with the U.S. Constitution. Besides educational information, the DEA page also links you to the agency’s Public Forfeiture Notices.

 


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News About Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Dayton

May 12, 2021

Preble County Sheriff’s Office Enlists New K-9 Unit”

WHIOTV7 reported that the Preble County Sheriff’s Office funded 60 percent of a new K-9 unit with funds from asset forfeitures. Sheriff Mike Simpson described the transaction to reporters as “a good return,” because criminals would be funding the larger portion of the new unit. The K-9 unit will serve as a tool in narcotics investigations and other police efforts.

 

May 6, 2021

7 Michiganders Stole $250,000 From Walmart in 35 States, Federal Indictment Says

A grand jury indictment filed in the United States District Court Western District alleges that seven Michigan residents took part in 80 thefts or attempted thefts, as well as more than 150 fraudulent returns at various Walmart stores throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, reports Mlive.com.

Two of the indicted individuals allegedly purchased electronics in Dayton, then used the receipt to fraudulently return the same items they had stolen from another Walmart so they could receive a full cash refund. If convicted, all seven defendants face possible forfeiture of their financial and physical assets.

 

February 19, 2021

Generation Now Pleads Guilty in $60.8M Bribery Case

A nonprofit embroiled in a mammoth bribery scheme pleaded guilty to a single count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy, according to an article in the Dayton Daily News. An executive with Generation Now entered a plea agreement in U.S. District Court. The terms of the agreement include the nonprofit’s forfeiture of $1.57 million, which has already been seized by the federal government. The case has received much media attention, with former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyists, pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges related to the case.

 

November 10, 2020

Attorney: Reynolds Likely Safe From Forfeiture in Case Against Ex-CEO

Dayton Daily News writes about defense attorney Brian Hayes’ take on the case of Reynolds & Reynolds CEO Bob Brockman. The former executive of this auto dealer software producer faces federal tax evasion charges, as well as money laundering, wire fraud, and other offenses.

Although Reynolds is mentioned in the indictment, Hayes says it is unlikely that Reynolds & Reynolds will forfeit ownership of any of the company because the company is not the defendant in the criminal case. This could change, however, if Brockman has an ownership interest in Reynolds & Reynolds.

 

June 10

The War on Drugs Gave Rise to ‘No-Knock’ Warrants. Breonna Taylor’s Death Could End Them

This enlightening piece from PBS News Hour explores the growing use of no-knock warrants as an outcome of the U.S. “war on drugs.” The idea behind no-knock and quick-knock warrants in drug raids was to enable police to surprise offenders without giving them time to run or eliminate evidence.

The article’s author sheds light on the role that civil asset forfeiture laws have played in the application of this type of warrant—citing statistics that indicate an increase in no-knock/quick-knock warrants from 1,500 times in the early 1980s to 40,000 times by 2000. A strong factor in this uptick, according to the author, is that law enforcement can seize property from these raids and sell them to support the police department.


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FAQs About Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in Ohio

Q. What Types of Assets Can the Government Seize in Forfeiture?

  1. Dayton residents should be aware that the government can seize and initiate forfeiture actions on any property it deems to be contraband or proceeds or instrumentalities of a crime, including, but not limited to, cash, firearms, drugs, and drug paraphernalia.

 

Q. What Is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Forfeiture?

  1. In Ohio, criminal forfeiture involves the taking of property after a person has been convicted of a crime. Civil forfeiture, on the other hand, takes place based on a federal agent or law enforcement officer believing that the evidence was used to facilitate a crime—something they must prove in court by a preponderance of the evidence.

 

Q. Is Forfeiture a Criminal Offense?

No, neither form of forfeiture (criminal or civil) is a criminal offense. In the case of criminal asset forfeiture, the action is a consequence of a criminal offense—and action that a prosecutor can bring against a person who has been convicted of a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is an in rem action—one that prosecutors bring against the property, not against a person. As such, the state does not need a criminal charge or conviction of the property’s owner for the seizure of property or its forfeiture.

 

Q. Can Police Take Your Possessions?

  1. Yes, Dayton Police Department officers and other members of local and federal law enforcement have the right to take your property if they believe the property was obtained through the commission of a crime. When police seize your property, they should give you a voucher that details the seized items.

 

Q. Can Customs Agents Take My Cash at the Airport?

  1. Yes, federal or task force agents at Dayton International Airport can seize your cash under certain conditions. Factors that affect this possibility include the amount of cash you are carrying, whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, and whether agents have reason to suspect the cash connects with the commission of a crime.

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Dayton Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures Lawyer

Joslyn Law Firm’s civil and criminal asset forfeiture lawyers understand the complex rules that apply to Dayton, Ohio’s civil and criminal asset forfeiture laws. We also have deep familiarity with Dayton courts and can navigate you through the process of reclaiming the personal property that was taken from you.

Our legal team will file a claim, petition for the return of your property, and litigate on your behalf in court. If necessary, take the matter to court for resolution. 

Call Joslyn Law Firm today for a free case evaluation: (937) 356-3969.


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