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Answers to Questions About Asset Forfeiture

Certain felony offenses and federal crimes result in asset forfeiture. With this process, the applicable government agency can seize assets used for or involved in criminal enterprises. 

These are the answers to the questions about asset forfeiture for individuals facing serious criminal charges. 

What types of assets are subject to seizure?

The government can confiscate any item of value to satisfy an asset forfeiture order. This includes but is not limited to real estate, art, jewelry, cash, vehicles, collectibles, watercraft, jewelry, antiques, businesses and investment holdings. 

What agencies confiscate assets?

Federal and state agencies may both seize an offender’s assets depending on the offense in question. Some of the agencies that may pursue this type of criminal restitution include the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, IRS, ICE, FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Local and state law enforcement can also pursue asset forfeiture. Agencies may do so to deter crime, deprive criminals of the profits from their unlawful activities and fight against serious criminal enterprises, such as international drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud, terrorism and cyber crimes. 

What are the different types of asset forfeiture?

Criminal forfeiture results from criminal proceedings and involves property the person used to commit a crime. This seizure takes place after an associated court order. Administrative forfeiture is the seizure of property and assets derived from criminal activities by a government agency. An administrative forfeiture action involves only the relevant federal agency and does not require court approval, meaning an individual suspected of a crime by such an agency can lose his or her assets without pending criminal charges in court. With civil forfeiture, the court issues a property seizure order for property seizure to satisfy a civil judgment. 

Often, proceeds from selling seized assets provide restitution to crime victims and support community programs. Some offenders may also successfully petition the court for the return of the assets in question depending on the circumstances of the case. Individuals can also report an abuse of the government forfeiture program. 

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