The United States Supreme Court ruled today that “the government cannot freeze the financial assets of people accused of crimes if the money has no connection to criminal activity and is needed to pay legal defense costs.”
This will have a tremendous affect on federal criminal defense going forward, taking away one of the government’s most powerful weapons. The freezing of assets and the seizure of assets has often been used to make life difficult for defendants who are in need of financial resources to protect their rights.
Justice Stephen Breyer really hit the nail on the head when discussing the issue at the core of the court’s ruling. In his view, the right of a defendant to hire a lawyer of their choosing – and that they can afford – is violated by the freezing of assets not tied to criminal activity.
“The government would undermine the value of that right by taking from Luis the ability to use the funds she needs to pay for her chosen attorney.”
At O’Brien Hatfield, PA, we cannot overstate how important this ruling is in protecting the rights of the accused in this country. We routinely represent people facing serious federal charges and are glad that this burden has been removed from the backs of defendants who already face the immense consequences of a conviction.
Learn more about our federal criminal defense practice.