How do I contest forfeiture of my property?

TO CONTEST THE FORFEITURE OF THE PROPERTY IN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT YOU MUST FILE A CLAIM. Failure to file a claim may result in the seized property being forfeited to the United States.

  1. To file a claim: A claim must be filed with the agency that gave notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit. To contest the forfeiture, the claim must be sent to the notifying agency’s address which is identified within the notice. A claim should be sent by mailing it with the U.S. Postal Service, or by using a Commercial Delivery Service, and sending it to the notifying agency’s address. If no address is provided in the notice, then the claim should be sent to Associate Chief Counsel; Office of Chief Counsel; 99 New York Avenue, NE; Mail Stop 3N 600; Washington, DC 20226.
  2. Time limits: A claim must be filed by the deadline date identified in the notice. See 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2). A claim is deemed filed on the date received by the agency if mailed with the U.S. Postal Service or if sent by Commercial Delivery Service.
  3. Requirements for claim: A claim must (1) be in writing, (2) describe the seized property, (3) state your ownership or other interest in the property, and (4) be made under oath, subject to penalty of perjury. See 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(C) and 28 U.S.C. § 1746.
  4. Claim forms: A claim need not be made in any particular form, but a claim form is available in PDF format. You may print and deliver the form to the agency pursuant to the instructions above. See 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(D).
  5. Supporting evidence: Although not required, you may submit supporting evidence (for example, title paperwork or bank records showing your interest in the seized property) to substantiate your claim.
  6. When you file a claim: A timely claim stops the administrative forfeiture proceeding. The seizing agency forwards the timely claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further proceedings.
  7. Penalties for filing false or frivolous claims: If you intentionally file a frivolous claim you may be subject to a civil fine. See 18 U.S.C. § 983(h). If you intentionally submit a claim containing false information, you may be subject to prosecution. See 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
  8. If no claim is filed: Failure to file a claim by the deadline date may result in the property being forfeited to the United States.
  9. No attorney required: You do not need an attorney to file a claim. You may, however, hire an attorney to represent you in filing a claim.
Last Reviewed April 2, 2018