Dallas/Fort Worth Illegal Search & Seizure Lawyers
Tarrant County Forfeiture Defense Attorney
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 9 of the Texas Constitution protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The courts have interpreted this to mean that an officer may not stop, detain, or frisk you without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Similarly, an officer may not search your home, car, or person without probable cause. If you suspect you have been stopped, searched, or had property taken illegally, you need an experienced criminal lawyer on your side.
At Westfall Sellers, we have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in property and currency taken illegally from our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys draw on decades of experience to help you fight an illegal search or seizure. We work hard to ensure proper police procedure was followed. If a state or federal law enforcement officer is attempting to charge you based on evidence obtained during an illegal search, you should contact us today at 817-928-4222.
Asserting Your Constitutional Right to Be Free From Unreasonable Search & Seizure
When evidence against you has been obtained through an illegal search or seizure, your attorney should file a motion to suppress the evidence. This applies whether you have been arrested for DWI, drug possession, or a federal white collar crime.
There are some reasons why you should not move to suppress an illegal search. In federal cases, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that officers relying in good faith on a warrant are relieved of the penalties of having evidence suppressed if the suppression would not act as a deterrent to future law enforcement misconduct. Unfortunately, in federal court, this exception has almost swallowed the rule.
Under Texas State Law, however, we have enacted a state exclusionary rule, which applies to exclude evidence more frequently than in federal court. Even when evidence would be admitted in federal court, Texas law sometimes excludes it.
If a court finds that a stop of your vehicle or search of your home was illegal, evidence obtained from that stop or search may not be used against you. In sum, a Fourth Amendment violation could severely weaken or altogether destroy the Government’s case against you.
Texas Forfeiture Attorneys • Serving Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton Counties
Under certain circumstances, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 59 allows state law enforcement officers to seize and attempt to forfeit property constituting “contraband.” Contraband simply means property gained from proceeds of, or used in the commission of, certain listed misdemeanor and felony offenses. Article 59 provides the complete list of qualifying forfeiture offenses. Importantly, you do not even have to be convicted of the listed offense to have property forfeited.
Before forfeiting property, you must receive a document titled notice of seizure and intended forfeiture. There are strict time requirements that must be followed before your forfeiture case can go forward. If not, the forfeiture case can be thrown out.
Federal Forfeiture Defense Throughout Texas
Similarly, under federal law, the government can forfeit property if it complies with 18 USC § 981, et. seq. Under that law, money or property used in connection with or derived from proceeds of certain illegal activity can be forfeited. Like state forfeiture, there are also timing and pleading requirements the Government must follow.
Under both state and federal law, there are defenses to raise. For example, if you are an innocent owner of the property used in the commission of an offense by someone else, the government cannot forfeit your property. As another example, if the forfeiture would be grossly disproportionate to the fine for the actual offense, it may be a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines.
Experienced Federal Forfeiture Lawyers • Call Today
Lately, the state and federal governments have ramped up forfeitures, especially in airports. If you have been stopped, searched, arrested, or had property taken from you illegally, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side. Contact us today at 817-928-4222.