The Supreme Court is hearing a case on a defendant’s rights to seized assets that may set new precedent on the subject. The case centers on Sila Luis, a Miami woman who was indicted in 2012 for Medicare fraud. The allegations against Luis claim that she and two co-defendants used bribes and false claims to defraud Medicare of $50 million dollars.
No distinction between legal and illegal assets
Upon indictment, the government froze Luis’ assets. This is a common occurrence in fraud cases. The intent of the practice is to ensure that the funds remain to pay back victims if the defendant is found guilty. Luis’ attorneys assert that she should have access to her legally obtained assets, including family jewelry and property. They claim that without access to this money, she is prevented from paying for a private attorney. They claim this is a violation of her Sixth Amendment rights.
Supreme Court divided
Members of the judiciary are debating the issue from a number of angles. They have raised the question of exerting financial punishment on someone who has not yet been convicted. They also cite precedent which says that money clearly acquired by illegal means is subject to seizure.
Possible long term implications
The decision on Luis’ case will likely have wide-reaching implications on the government’s ability to freeze assets. If the Supreme Court’s decision upholds the legality of preventing Luis from accessing her money and property without distinction between legally and illegally obtained assets, it might mean that those accused in more crimes could be subject to the same financial fate.
Criminal allegations carry serious consequences long before a verdict is delivered. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you get fair treatment under the law.
Supreme Court Medicare fraud case raises questions over seized assets