Criminal Forfeiture Laws

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What Does “Criminal Forfeiture” Mean?

Criminal forfeiture refers to the taking of a person’s property by the state, usually in connection with criminal activity.  For example, if a person’s home was being used for drug production, the home may be seized as part of the criminal trial and investigation.  This is known as criminal forfeiture, where the person “forfeits” their property. 

Criminal forfeiture is also common for property that was obtained through criminal means.  The laws governing criminal forfeiture can vary by state, and may also be different according to the nature of the crime involved. 

Civil forfeiture is very similar to criminal forfeiture, except that the forfeiture occurs without any criminal charges being filed against the defendant.  In a civil forfeiture, the charges are actually brought against the property itself.  

When Does Criminal Forfeiture Apply?

Criminal forfeiture usually applies when:

Some commonly seized properties and assets in a criminal forfeiture action include:

In particular, criminal forfeiture especially applies to certain offenses more than others.  These include drug trafficking and racketeering or gambling.   

What are my Rights When it Comes to Criminal Forfeiture of Property?

A person’s rights in connection with criminal forfeiture will vary by state, as well the type of crime involved. 

One important aspect of criminal forfeiture is the timing of when it’s raised.  In most cases, the defendant will be given advanced notice of the forfeiture issues even before prosecution begins.  In such cases, it may be possible to address the issue of forfeiture through plea negotiations with the prosecutor. 

But in some cases, criminal forfeiture is only raised later on, such as during trial or after conviction.  If that happens, the forfeiture may depend on the evidence that is presented during trial. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Criminal Forfeiture Proceedings?

If you’re facing issues with criminal forfeiture, it’s best to seek the advice and representation of a criminal defense attorney.  A competent criminal lawyer in can help explain the criminal forfeiture laws in your area, and can zealously represent you during court proceedings.  Although forfeiture is somewhat rare, criminal forfeiture can have dramatic effects on a person’s property.

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Last Modified: 06-14-2012 10:47 AM PDT

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