Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property

Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property

Legal Measures for Targeting the Proceeds of Crime

Edited by Simon N.M. Young

In this book, which is the first of its kind, leading experts examine the civil and criminal forfeiture systems in Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the fight against organized crime and international money laundering, there is a global trend for countries to enact forfeiture and confiscation laws that are applied through the civil process rather than the traditional criminal justice system. The authors gathered here analyze the appeal these civil forfeiture laws have for governments for their potential to disrupt criminal organizations and for their quantifiable benefits to the state. But without the usual safeguards of the criminal process, civil forfeiture laws are controversial, attracting constitutional challenges, particularly on human rights grounds.

Chapter 2: An Overview of Asset Forfeiture in the United States

Stefan D. Cassella

Subjects: economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, criminal law and justice, finance and banking law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Stefan D. Cassella* INTRODUCTION Asset forfeiture came into prominence as a law enforcement tool in the United States during the 1990s. At the beginning of that decade, the Department of Justice – the principal federal law enforcement agency – was forfeiting approximately US$200 million per year in criminal assets, mostly from drug cases. By the end of the decade, it was forfeiting more than US$600 million per year in assets involved in an enormous variety of serious crimes.1 In short, in the last decade, asset forfeiture became institutionalized as an essential weapon in the arsenal that the federal law enforcement agencies in the United States could bring to bear on the perpetrators of crime. But the statutes, procedures and policies that govern the application of the forfeiture laws did not spring full grown from a single Act of Congress. Nor were the various statutes that were enacted piecemeal over many years accepted by the courts without scepticism or controversy. To the contrary, laws and concepts that developed slowly throughout the 19th and 20th centuries were greatly expanded in the last 20 years, applied in new contexts and subjected to close scrutiny by a sceptical judiciary. Only now, after more than a dozen constitutional challenges in the Supreme Court of the United States and the enactment * The chapter consists of extracts from chapters 1 and 2 of Stefan D. Cassella (2006), Asset Forfeiture Law in the United States, Huntington, NY, US: Juris Publishing (hereinafter Asset Forfeiture Law in US) which were...

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