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Feds selling wedding dresses? Less unusual than you might think

Brides-to-be search for the perfect dress. They know that everyone will be looking at them, and the dress they are wearing, the entire evening. Of course, the perfect dress doesn’t always fit the budget. If you are a bride-to-be in Atlanta, you are in luck. Dozens of dresses originally priced at around $2,000 are selling for as low as $175.

Why are we talking wedding dresses in a blog focused on criminal law? A retailer is not selling them to get rid of some excess inventory. A manufacturer is not selling them because they have defects. A designer is not selling them to boost his or her name recognition. Federal authorities are selling them.

Federal authorities seized the dresses as part of an investigation into money laundering related to a drug enterprise. The U.S. Marshals Service will get to keep the proceeds from the sale.

If you are surprised by this news, don’t be. The situation is much more common than you may think. State and federal authorities have the power to seize property related to a criminal investigation:

  • They can take property they say is evidence of a crime.
  • They can take money they say helps fund criminal activity.
  • They can take money they say is profit from illegal actions.
  • They don’t need to present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to take the property.
  • They can take property before your guilt or innocence is determined in a court of law.

Many people do not realize that even if they are deemed innocent of all charges, they might not get their property back. If they do, it is often a long and difficult process. Property seizures and forfeitures are just one more reason why time is of the essence in any criminal investigation. Hire an attorney immediately.

Source: Atlanta Sun Times, "Wedding dresses seized in federal drug investigation go for cheap," Will Hager, Sept. 2, 2015

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