What is the Assets Forfeiture?
Asset Forfeiture is a formal confiscation—instituted by a government or state-run organization—of assets, which are either the proceeds of a crime or the alleged instruments of a crime. The term “instruments of a crime” refers to tangible properties that was allegedly used to carryout or facilitate the institution of the crime. For example, motorized vehicles are commonly referred to as “instruments of crime” for their ability to transport illegal narcotics or weapons. This terminology; however, is used differently depending on jurisdiction. The asset forfeiture program is a hotly contested institution–Those in favor of asset forfeiture programs state that the premise of seizing assets connected in a crime is a necessary process to prevent drug trafficking or the genesis of other crimes.
Asset Forfeiture Programs in the United States:
In the United States, there are two types of asset forfeiture programs: civil and criminal. The majority of forfeiture cases practiced in the United States are of the civil variety; in a civil asset forfeiture program, the United States government will sue the item or property in question, not the person. In these scenarios, the owner of the property, in essence, is a third party claimant.
When the government establishes probably cause that the property in question is subject to being seized, the owner must prove on a “preponderance of the evidence” that it is not subject to forfeiture.
In a criminal forfeiture case, the act of seizing the property or item in question is not carried out until a sentence following a conviction takes place—in criminal forfeiture cases, the seizing is viewed as a punitive act against the offender. Because the government can choose the type of forfeiture, a civil case—due to its relatively low cost—is almost always chosen.
The United States Marshals Service is the organization responsible for managing and disposing of properties seized and forfeited by asset forfeiture programs and various Department of Justice agencies—the organization currently manages roughly $1 billion worth of property.
The United States Treasury Department is responsible for managing and disposing of properties obtained by Treasury agencies. That being said, the stated mission of both asset forfeiture programs is to maximize the net return from the seized properties by auction sales or purchases from the private sector. The funds obtained from these transactions are then used to enhance or improve law enforcement resources.