Law Offices of Kenneth H. Lewis
Defending Clients for Over 35 Years
Home About Us Criminal Defense Areas Contact Us
Ken Lewis has the experience you need, including arguing cases before the California Supreme Court. Don’t try to “self-diagnose” the situation; bring in an expert to help understand what you’re up against. If you’re facing criminal charges don’t hesitate to contact an experienced criminal lawyer.
Criminal Defense
Animal Cruelty
Assault & Battery
Bail and Bonds
Brandishing a Weapon
Building Code Violations
Child Abuse / CACI
Federal Crimes
Internet Crimes
Juvenile Crimes
Massage Licensing & Violations
Murder / Attempted Murder
Plea Withdrawals
Probation Violations
Restraining Orders
Sex Crimes
Small Claims Court Appeals
Theft Crimes
Traffic Violations
Violent Crimes
White Collar Crimes
Contact Us

Federal and California Forfeitures

Seized Property and Money Can be Returned


When a search or arrest is made, or a party crosses the border, or leaves an airport, the government will often try to keep any money or property it finds, whether or not a crime has been charged. The authorities may try to have you sign a document saying you have no interest in the money or property, or threaten you with criminal punishment if you try to claim the items. Don't be intimidated – you have the right to challenge the government to try and get your property back. You need to immediately contact an experienced Forfeiture Lawyer, like Kenneth H. Lewis with 40+ years of experience in successfully returning seized property.


Parties are often notified only through the mail that their property is actually being seized by the government. There are strict deadlines as to when you must oppose the forfeiture, depending on whether it is a California or federal forfeiture. You must make sure that, after a seizure has occurred, that you, or someone you know, watches your mail for the forfeiture notice. After you receive it you must immediately contact an attorney like Kenneth H. Lewis who knows how to handle these complex and specialized cases. Most ordinary criminal and civil lawyers have little or no experience in this field.

Criminal vs. Civil Forfeitures

Forfeitures can be either "civil" or "criminal". A criminal forfeiture is made part of the criminal case, and follows the regular criminal trial. If you are convicted of the crime charged, then the issue of whether the property can be given to the government is held. A "civil forfeiture" is a case entirely separate from a criminal case (if there even is one) and is a civil proceeding in a civil court. Procedurally this is like a regular civil case and can include "depositions" [questioning under oath] and "interrogatories" [written questions that must be answered under oath]. Only an attorney with civil forfeiture experience like Kenneth H. Lewis is qualified to handle this type of case.

If My Money Or Property Is Being Taken, What Should I Do?

  • Do not talk to the police or federal agents beyond claiming that the property is yours
  • Do not sign any documents saying the property is not yours, even if they promise to let you go, or threaten you if you won't sign
  • Ask that a lawyer knowledgeable about forfeitures, like Kenneth H. Lewis, be present
  • You can sign a receipt for your property as long as everything is listed on it, there is no denial of your right to claim the property, and no admissions of any kind are made in it
  • Immediately contact an attorney experienced in handling forfeiture cases
  • Constantly check you mail for a "Forfeiture Notice" and immediately contact your qualified forfeiture attorney when it arrives
  • If a "Forfeiture Notice" has not been received within 7 days of the seizure, let your forfeiture attorney know
  • Have all documents that show how the money and property was legally obtained available for review by your forfeiture attorney.

The Burden Of Proof

Believe it or not, all the government has to do is show a "prima facie case", i.e. a presumption that illegality is involved in obtaining the property, and the burden shifts to you to prove that the property should be given back. In other words, you may have the burden to prove you are entitled to your own property – something you need a qualified forfeiture attorney to do!

Why Hire Kenneth H. Lewis To Help You With Your Fofreiture Case?

Kenneth H. Lewis has successfully handled both California and federal forfeiture cases for over 30 years, both civil and criminal. He has successfully tried these cases, and negotiated successful settlements. He knows the ins and outs of forfeiture cases. He is responsible for the return of considerable sums of money and property. He is fearless in his resolve to obtain the very best results for his clients and never rests until that job is done. He is admitted before all California courts, the United States Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Central District of the United States District Court.

No cost consultations are available. Mr. Lewis will meet with you and begin to determine what needs to be done. He will frankly analyze the case and be honest in an assessment of your chances of obtaining a recovery. Jail interviews may be possible. The entire forfeiture process and procedure will be explained in detail. If retained, he will always, promptly return all telephone calls. He will leave no stone unturned in trying to have your money and property returned!

Call Ken Lewis now to calendar a NO COST CONSULTATION at: 213-624-4904, day or night, or e-mail him at