If you’re a landowner facing off against the government, you probably have many questions about the process of eminent domain. You may be wondering if you have any power in this situation, and, conversely—if there’s any limit to the government’s power.

Fortunately, due process does put some restrictions on the government’s power. But what exactly is due process? And how does due process limit eminent domain? The simple answer is that, through certain procedures enacted by state and federal governments, there are protections for landowners and limitations on governments during the exercise of eminent domain and condemnation.

What Is Due Process?

“Due process” is a legal term which refers to the fair or just treatment all parties are entitled to under the law. “Due process” exists in all areas of law, and is most commonly illustrated during the criminal arrest and prosecution of individuals (e.g. the government must “mirandize” people under arrest, the government’s requirement to get a search warrant from a judge, the individual’s right to be read their charges, etc.).

“Due process” is not limited to criminal proceedings; landowners are entitled to due process during condemnation and eminent domain proceedings as well. For example, a landowner is entitled to a jury trial during condemnation under state law; the government must issue a pre-condemnation monetary offer; and the government must provide notice of any eminent domain proceedings to the landowner.

Condemnation imposes limitations on governments and protections on landowners, but not all governments play nice. It is a landowner’s duty to hold a government’s feet to the fire. Luckily, an experienced landowner attorney can help you fight eminent domain and ensure you get your “due process” protection under the law.

Why Does the Government Exercise Eminent Domain?

A government entity exercises eminent domain authority to seize property through litigation that it can’t otherwise acquire. The purpose of eminent domain is to permit the creation and construction of “publicly” used projects that would otherwise be unwieldy, too expensive, and/or impossible to build if landowners maintained “veto power” via refusing to sell the necessary land. While there is no “list” of projects that fit this description, eminent domain is most commonly used for roads, wetland preservation, pipelines, powerlines, schools, and other government buildings.

When the government exercises the right to eminent domain, they “condemn” the property by filing a lawsuit in the relevant court and asking the court to order the transfer of the property to the government to be used in the fashion identified in the lawsuit.

What Do You Do If the Government Is Seizing Your Property?

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you receive notice of eminent domain. You may be blindsided and confused about what to do next.

Above all else, the most important thing to remember is that you should not accept the initial offer sent by the government without first getting a second opinion from a trusted source. Every landowner has the right to reject the offer, but it is important that a landowner has a plan in place after rejection.

An eminent domain attorney can help walk you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. If you’re a landowner wondering how to fight eminent domain, you should contact an eminent domain attorney immediately. 

Contact Sever Storey for Help with Your Eminent Domain Case

Contact Sever Storey today for the help you need with your eminent domain case or have more questions about how due process limits eminent domain. With offices spanning from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Austin, Texas, we’ve helped countless landowners fight all types of eminent domain.

No matter what type of property you own, we’re here to offer our expertise. Contact us today to learn more.