On May 11, 2015, Miladis Salgado returned home to find her life turned upside down. While she was at work, police had raided her home and seized her entire life savings—$15,000 in cash she was saving for her daughter—based on a tip that her estranged husband was dealing drugs. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from filing a civil forfeiture complaint in an attempt to keep Miladis’ money forever.
Miladis was incensed. She’d done nothing wrong, so she decided to fight back against the government. Without any savings, the only way she could afford an attorney was to hire one on contingency. After two years of legal wrangling and countless sleeplessness nights, she won her case. The court was finally about to rule in Miladis’ favor, so the DEA admitted that there was no evidence of a crime and agreed to give back her money, but in doing so, it refused to pay her attorneys’ fees. That meant Miladis would receive $10,000 of her money back, but the remaining $5,000 would go to her attorney, who had represented her in court.