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2.7: Asset Forfeiture

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    Many jurisdictions have laws that allow the government to seize property and assets used in criminal enterprises. Such a seizure is known as forfeiture. Automobiles, airplanes, and boats used in illegal drug smuggling are all subject to seizure. The assets are often given over to law enforcement. According to the FBI, "Many criminals are motivated by greed and the acquisition of material goods. Therefore, the ability of the government to forfeit property connected with criminal activity can be an effective law enforcement tool by reducing the incentive for illegal conduct. Asset forfeiture takes the profit out of crime by helping to eliminate the ability of the offender to command resources necessary to continue illegal activities" (FBI, 2015).

    Asset forfeiture can be both a criminal and a civil matter. Civil forfeitures are easier on law enforcement because they do not require a criminal conviction. As a civil matter, the standard of proof is much lower than it would be if the forfeiture was a criminal penalty. Commonly, the standard for such a seizure is probable cause. With criminal asset forfeitures, law enforcement cannot take control of the assets until the suspect has been convicted in criminal court.

    2.7: Asset Forfeiture is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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