Pushing back against forfeiture seizures

March 25, 2019
Hilda Bazan

Hilda Bazan, a woman in her 50’s works in sales in Los Angeles. She lives with her two nephews.

A few years ago, Hilda purchased a new Kia Optima. She often lent the car to her nephew, so he could get to work and run other errands.

Some months ago, without Hilda’s knowledge, her nephew decided to take some currency to Mexico and failed to declare it to US customs (this is a violation of federal law if the currency exceeds $10,000). He was arrested, and Hilda’s car was seized. The government sought to forfeit the vehicle as an instrument of the crime committed by her nephew.

The DKT Liberty Project paid for a lawyer to represent her in fighting this federal forfeiture case. Hilda had no knowledge of what her nephew did, and the lawyer pointed out that she was an innocent owner of the car. Within a week, the federal authorities decided to return her vehicle.