Federal criminal law makes it a crime for you to destroy or remove property with the intent to prevent it from being seized by the government. The offense is a felony federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you are being charged of any federal offense.

What is the Federal Law on Destroying Property to Avoid Seizure?

18 U.S.C. 2232 is the federal statute that sets forth the crime of destroying property to avoid seizure. Per this law, you commit a crime if you knowingly destroy or remove (or attempt to destroy or remove) any item of property that the U.S. government claims lawful authority to seize (for example, via a warrant).

Prosecutors generally have to prove three elements to convict you of this crime. These are:

  1. A person was authorized by the government to search for and seize the property (for example, drugs or proceeds from a drug sale),
  2. You willfully destroyed or removed the property designated for seizure (or attempted to do so), and
  3. You did so with the specific aim of keeping the property from being seized.

What are the Penalties?

Destroying property to avoid seizure is a felony federal offense. The crime is punishable by:

  • Custody in federal prison for up to five years, and/or
  • Significant fines.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge a destruction of property charge with a legal defense. A common defense is to show that your actions were not willful. Recall that you are only guilty of this crime if you destroyed or removed property willfully or on purpose. This means you are not guilty of a crime if you somehow destroyed property by accident or without the intent to keep it from being seized.

Your criminal defense attorney can also try to show that the government lacked the authority to search for or seize the property. For example, if the government did not have a valid warrant or other legal claim for seizing the property, then any actions you took to prevent the seizure may be considered reasonable.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an 18 U.S.C. 2232 charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various criminal charges under federal law. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!