Frozen assets / by kevin murray

Picture yourself as a very successful human being; you have the nice house, the nice car, and a slew of assets.  You don't have the need for physical gold or silver and the amount of cash that you carry on a given day is minimal.  The bulk of your assets are held in a couple of brokerage accounts and you don't have any foreign bank accounts and have never considered having one.  Life is good. 


However, one day you try to access your brokerage account to make a transfer and to access funds and instead you find that your account appears to be compromised.  Right then, you begin to feel a tightening in your chest, but you soldier on, assuming that your account has perhaps been hacked but instead upon logging into your account further you read a strange message saying that: "By order of the United States Department of Justice the assets of this account have been seized and a restraining order on this account has been issued".  Quickly, you verify the calendar date and you notice that it is indeed not April fool's day and with sweaty palms you dial up your frozen brokerage account and talk to your contact there.  It's difficult for you to even speak because your throat is so dry but upon getting your brokerage representative on the phone you are able to stammer out what appears to be the impossible that is happening to you.  After being placed on an endless hold and then transferred to one department after another, some man with a halting voice indicates that your account has indeed been seized, that you no longer have the rights to the account and therefore your log-in and password information have been secured.  Within a minute, you are forcefully locked out of your brokerage account, repeated attempts to even log-into your account are denied and you give up.  You then try all of your other brokerage and bank accounts and are unsuccessful in all of them in getting into your account.


You are grateful that you still have an internet connection and you waste no time in finding the best attorney that handles these types of asset forfeitures.  You are no longer nervous, or halting; you are instead hyper-focused because you realize that your life as you know it is on the line.  Good attorneys are always busy but you press the urgency of the matter and within an hour you get a phone call back from your attorney.   He states that the Government has the right to freeze your assets upon probable cause from a grand jury and further that in the case of United States v. Monsanto, your assets may be frozen when the Government presents probable cause to a Judge that in all likelihood, that if convicted, the assets or property that you currently own would be subject to forfeiture.   


Your attorney patiently explains to you that therefore the very monies that you need in order to build a proper defense are not currently available to you, but he promises to investigate further.  Additionally, he indicates that no doubt an indictment is in the process of being issued against you but because of the inefficiencies and bloat of government agencies, the coordination of these activities can be thrown off.


You slump into your easy-chair, befuddled and confused.  You haven't committed any crime, and even if you had, isn't this America, in which you are innocent until proven guilty!?  Isn't there a thing called due process?  If the government takes everything away from you, how is it possible for you to mount a successful defense?  Is this going to be a modern-day version of Kafka's "The Trial"?


Civil and criminal forfeiture are becoming more and more common in the United States, most people aren’t concerned about it, perhaps even support it, but this type of immense power can easily be abused.  When everything that you have is taken away from you, you are at the mercy of the Government and its' objectives.  Even with assets, facts, and the wherewithal to fight the Government it's never a fair fight; take away one of those supporting legs and the fight is all but over.