Do criminal defendants have to forfeit property?

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State and federal laws require defendants convicted of certain crimes to forfeit property. Forfeiture can be additional to any fines, fees, and restitution the defendant must pay. The forfeited property must typically have been used in commission of the crime or represent criminal proceeds.In some instances, the government can even pursue forfeiture against acquitted defendants in civil court

Example: Officer Gomez, acting undercover and operating on a tip, goes to Jesse’s mobile home and inquires about buying methamphetamine. Jesse readily sells some to him. Gomez then obtains a search warrant from a judge. He and several officers search the mobile home and find 10 pounds of meth, manufacturing equipment, and thousands in cash. The mobile home is subject to forfeiture under state law because it was used to commit a drug crime. (See Hooper v. State, 252 Ga. App. 574 (2001), In re Forfeiture of One 1978 Sterling Mobile Home, 205 Mich. App. 427 (1994).)

For more on this topic, see Forfeiting Property in a Federal Criminal Case. Also see On Ice: Supreme Court Okays Procedure for Freezing Defendants’ Assets.

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