A news release from Customs & Border Protection goes into some detail on a recent money seizure in Arizona. The release says that Customs officer’s seized $10,744 in unreported money/currency from a 22-year old guy with a valuable pair of shoes (see below. sometimes I just like re-posting these new releases for the pictures they provide of smuggling attempts).
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents conducting outbound inspections referred a 22-year-old man for further inspection. During a search of the man, officers found $10,744 in U.S. currency concealed in his shoes. The currency was seized and the man was arrested and referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Unlike the usual cases I handled where the unreported seized money is part of a civil seizure, this apparently was a criminal seizure. While any violation can give rise to criminal penalties, usually if there is no suspicion of criminal activity the assistant U.S. attorney will not press charges.
In fact, before sometimes before a person is a released after being detained for bulk cash smuggling, a failure to report currency over $10,000, or a structuring violation the seizing officer will call and explain the circumstances to the assistant U.S. attorney, who may either accept, defer, decline prosecution. Of course, if prosecution is initially declined, it would not prevent the government from changing their mind and pursuing criminal charges should they find new evidence in the future.
The risk of criminal prosecution, and the complicated process of actually getting your money through the petition process, is a good reason to give our office a call at (734) 855-4999, or e-mail us if you have had your money seized by Customs, even if you feel it was innocently done. We provide more reasons for hiring an attorney in our tutorial on the currency seizure process.