You are required to complete the CBP Election of Proceedings form that comes with the notice of seizure (customs money seizure letter). The election of proceedings form is appropriately titled: by completing it properly, you tell Customs how you want to proceed with your currency seizure case under different customs laws and procedures. These options presented by the election of proceedings form are:
- Petition for Remission Administratively
- Make an Officer in Compromise
- Abandon Any Claim or Interest
- File a Claim for Court Action
What option on the Election of Proceedings Form do I choose?
You can only choose one option on the election of proceedings form to get your seized money back from CBP. Do not sign and return the election of proceedings form to Customs without understanding what you are signing.
For example, you cannot sign the election of proceedings form requesting that CBP consider a petition, and then also simultaneously file a “CAFRA Seized Asset and Claim Form”. The two exclude each other; you cannot do both at the same time. You must either file a petition, file a claim, make an offer in compromise, or abandon your interest.
That is a simple mistake happens often. If you do this it is a warning that you have no idea how to get your seized cash back. You will quickly get frustrated and lost in customs bureaucratic procedural details, and probably lose your seized money through forfeiture.
What do the Election of Proceedings options mean?
The election of proceedings form itself has a somewhat detailed legal explanation that we won’t repeat here. If you have trouble understanding the election of proceedings’ options do not be surprised. It’s written for customs lawyers to understand, and that’s why we are here: for you to contact us. So “what box to check” on the election of proceedings form is not a question we answer without first giving our potential clients a free customs money seizure consultation.
But that being said, the election of proceedings options basically mean:
- Filing a petition keeps the proceeding with Customs, to be decided by the port’s Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures Officer;
- Filing the CAFRA Seized Asset Claim Form removes the decision from Customs FP&F and puts the case in front of a federal judge;
- Abandoning your interest does just that, relinquishes your interest in the property (at least it probably does; in some cases maybe not completely, like when forced to abandon cash to Customs); and,
- Making an offer in compromise essentially is an avenue for someone to make a settlement offer to the government to settle a “questionable” (i.e., implausible) claim or controversy, and the offer in compromise laws must be strictly complied with.
We will advise you what option is best in your case during our free currency seizure consultation. A petition is often best because it keeps costs low, keeps it out of court, and gets confiscated money back quickly. But there are many times when a claim or offer in compromise is the best strategic decision to get your seized money back from CBP.