Get convicted of a crime in Orange County and you could be facing more than just time in jail. State law allows authorities to seize assets that they show have been used in the commission of crime, and the Orange County District Attorney declared this week that he intends to use forfeiture to the fullest extent he can to boost enforcement and prosecution efforts.
Many may not be too familiar with this particular form of legal leverage. What it means is that the government can keep cash or other items associated with criminal activity, whether they represent the fruits of alleged crime or were used in the commission of the crime.
Examples of the types of things that could be taken include cash seized in the course of drug deals; guns confiscated in connection with a robbery; and a home, homes or business used for criminal activities.
Cases in which felony driving while intoxicated could see asset forfeiture used, too, according to the DA. He says if a conviction is obtained, he would look to seize the vehicle used if the defendant is the owner or if the owner allowed the crime to take place.
While known to be a legitimate enforcement tool, there are those who say there is a danger of forfeiture being misused. One criminal defense attorney suggests the factor of money has prompted litigation of cases that might not otherwise have gone to trial.
The consequences of a conviction of any crime are already severe. The possibility of some sort of asset forfeiture only makes it all the more important for anyone facing felony DWI charges to enlist the help of an experienced defense attorney.
Source: Times Herald-Record, “Orange DA promotes boost in asset forfeiture,” Heather Yakin, July 28, 2014