Asset Forfeiture: Selected Legal Issues and Reforms [February 2, 2015]   [open pdf - 424KB]

"From its beginning in the First Congress, Congress has viewed asset forfeiture as an integral part of federal crime fighting: It takes contraband off the streets, ensures that 'crime doesn't pay,' and deprives criminals of their 'tools of the trade.' In short, asset forfeiture is the process of confiscating money or property from a person because it is illegal to possess, it constitutes proceeds of a crime, or it was used to facilitate a crime. Asset forfeiture became a major tool in combating organized crime, drug trafficking, and other serious federal offenses throughout the mid-to-late 20th century and continues to play a major role in federal prosecutions. In recent years, however, there has been growing opposition to the expanding scope of asset forfeiture, both civil and criminal, with objections primarily coming in two forms: procedural and structural. The procedural objections are based on the idea that the current rules pertaining to asset forfeiture heavily favor the government. […] With these proposals in mind, this report will provide an overview of selected legal issues and reforms surrounding asset forfeiture, including the burden-of-proof standard and innocent-owner defense in civil asset forfeiture cases, access to counsel in both civil and criminal forfeiture cases (including a discussion of the 2014 Supreme Court asset forfeiture decision 'Kaley v. United States'), allocation of profits from confiscated assets, and DOJ's [Department of Justice] equitable sharing program."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43890
Public Domain
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