It's Hard to Pay a Lawyer Without Money

Supreme Court considers what happens when government seizes all your assets before you go to trial.

Good lawyers don't come cheap.

Source: Pool/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re arrested and charged with a white-collar crime, can the government freeze the assets you need to pay for a lawyer to prove your innocence? Remarkably, there's no definitive legal answer to this question, which the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Tuesday. It’s established that the government can freeze tainted assets that it traces to your alleged crime, and that you don’t get to challenge that determination. But Tuesday's case will answer the further question of whether the government can freeze any of your assets up to the value of what it says you stole -- not just assets it identifies as tainted proceeds.

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