Running header: CIVIL FORFEITURE 1














Civil Forfeiture

Olen Jessie

Post University













Civil forfeiture happens when the government confiscates property under suspicion of its connection to criminal conduct. Such an action is against the asset itself or undertaken in rem, instead of in personam, or against the asset owner. Criminal forfeiture, on the other hand, is in personam procedure. Law enforcement abuse of civil forfeiture statutes has rocked the America’s conscience. Civil forfeiture permits authorities to confiscate — and then retain or auction — any asset law enforcement think is implicated in a crime. The owner need not ever be accused or even convicted of a crime for their funds, automobiles, or any other asset to be stripped away completely by the state. Forfeiture was at first promoted as a strategy to weaken organized crime businesses by redirecting their money. However, at present, helped by fundamentally defective state and federal legislation, many police departments employ forfeiture to enhance their bottom lines; conducting seizures has been a profit-oriented game instead of fighting crime. For persons whose assets have been confiscated under civil forfeiture, officially retrieving such assets is infamously expensive and challenging, with costs frequently surpassing the item’s value. With the asset’s total value increasing annually, calls for reforms are getting stronger.

Peer review

Article 1: The Effects of Civil and Criminal Forfeitures on Drug-Related Arrests

The enactment of the Forfeiture Ac by congress allowed federal authorities to bring charges against convicted drug dealers, so federal authorities were granted the power to make arrests and seize any property intended to be used or used for crime. The amendment of the actin 1984 saw the development of the comprehensive crime control act aimed at drug trafficking. The Act allowed for equitable sharing of the process of crime among local, state, and federal agencies. The ability of the agencies to circumvent the restrictive state laws and aloe the agencies keep the seized assets for they have played a critical flaw in the law enforcement agencies becoming more aggressive in their seizures.

The lack of reliable data on the civil forfeitures saw the study employ the DOJ seizures from the individual states. There was a high correlation between the per capita prison populations (0.51), African American population, and population density, among other variables such as drug-related arrests at 0.41791. The correlations showed a high correlation between measures of criminal activity and measures of economic success. The implications of the results show that the benefits derived from forfeiture are minimal based on the data from the analysis. Amendment of the CCCA would help remove the incentives for local and state agencies to engage in forfeitures and seizures as it would help restore some degree of due process.

The research results showed that there was a minimal effect of forfeitures on drug-related arrests. The drop in related crime and arrests was minimal. The author could further expand on these results by analyzing the drop rate in drug-related crime and arrests based on class and race since most of the arrests tend to be focused on African Americans and Latinos and mostly in low-income neighborhoods. Future research studies need to focus on the impact of the forfeitures on the crime rate based on race and class, as there exist stark differences between races and social classes.

The article adds further information on civil forfeiture of proceeds by analyzing the law’s impact on the rate of crime. The article presents a side of the topic that is new and rarely discusses the real impact of these forfeitures and the drop in crime levels.


Civil asset forfeiture was intended to limit the gains that crime organizations gained through their illicit trades. The financial incentives have, over the years, altered police incentives, which are strong to raise significant civil or liberty incentives. The result of this Act and increased police incentives is raised concerns over the potential violation or abuse of habeas corpus. These concerns have led to the reformation of the approach to forfeiture by requiring that each forfeiture be accompanied by a criminal conviction or standard of proof. Data from Chicago indicates that most forfeitures are carried out in minority communities and low-income areas, with the mean seizures amounting to about $1000 in cash. The study estimated that changes made to the forfeiture act between 1984-1992 led to a 17% reduction in non-violent property crimes, especially in areas where police could keep a huge share of their seizures. With the increased incentive from the seizures, the study anticipated that police concentrated more on drug seizures than traffic enforcement. It is estimated that traffic fatalities increased 22% after enacting equitable sharing. The Act is anticipated to achieve some of its goals while also raising questions about the law beyond civil liberties.

The author could expand the results of the research by further investigating the impact of the forfeiture of the assets on the victims’ lives and also investigate the real extent of how law enforcement agencies benefit as a result of the forfeitures, which would help explain the real drive behind why these law enforcement agencies would devote much time to drug bursting rather than other duties. To what extent and of what benefit are the assets to the law enforcement agencies?

The article adds to the research topic by analyzing the effects or impacts of forfeitures on law enforcement agencies. It helps shed light on a rather lesser known concept. The lens through which the article analyzes the topic is rather eye opening. The correlation between forfeitures and the rate of increase in other misdemeanors or felonies helps avail need information towards the reform of the law.

Article 3: Guilty until Proven Innocent: Rethinking Civil Asset F en Innocent: Rethinking Civil Asset Forfeiture and the Innocent Owner Defense

There is a need to reform the civil assets forfeiture to avoid the problem of unlawful or inequitable forfeitures. The war on drugs campaign has been tolerated because of civil asset forfeiture. The Act creates more victims than it helps through the seizure of property without accompanying warrants or evidence. There is a need to reform the Act by having a uniform forfeiture reporting system. It will avail better access to necessary information allowing for accountability between the local and state law enforcement agencies. It would result in the public having more faith and trust in the law enforcement agencies, which can help raise morale and lead to much greater cooperation between the public and law enforcement. It is necessary that the burden of proof be placed upon the government and applied uniformly, which will help deter law enforcement from using the Act as a means to the end.

The author can expand on the topic by proposing various remedies apart from standard or uniform operating forfeiture systems, as it is not the only solution to this deep problem. Further research should concentrate on more remedies to the issue, such as legislation where the law can be amended and help reduce the benefits that law enforcement derives from forfeitures. The vast amount of resources can be transferred to the development of the community. The article sheds light on the challenges with the forfeiture law on law enforcement. Issues such as trust and the creation of more victims than beneficiaries of the law help add to the current research on the topic.

Article 4: Civil Forfeiture, Crime Fighting and Safeguards for the Innocent

The belief by the Department of Justice of the low rates of claims for the return of property is evidence that most of the properties are proceeds of crime; however, the forfeiture law makes it extremely hard for innocent people to get their property back. The law is designed in a manner in which the government has the upper hand forcing the person to bear the burden of proof, which is further weakened by the fact that the process may happen without the proper oversight of a jury or judge. It is highly unlikely that meaningful protection will be accorded to the victims as long as the power rests with the very agencies that are supposed to benefit from the same proceeds.

The author could further expand on the topic and lay the ground for future research on the legal obstacles within the forfeiture law that hamper asset recovery. The research could further build on the current results by investigating the number of those aggrieved by the law vis a vis the beneficiaries to it to shed light on the benefits and disadvantages of the law. It will further the topic by examining the real effects 0of the law on the civilian population. The law is designed to protect the public; however, its benefits to the public can be investigated even further.

The data sources influence the research topic by touching on the legal aspects of the forfeiture law. The legal aspects of the law ought to be analyzed to make the law even much better and more beneficial to the public.

Literature review

Civil asset forfeiture rules empower detectives to seize assets, and money, if authorities only believe it is tied to criminal conduct. In these kinds of cases, the police are not required to file charges and perhaps even demonstrate guilt before seizing and retaining assets, and there is no upper limit to what kinds of property they can seize (Pimentel, 2017). Furthermore, these seizures frequently occur in situations where law enforcement has engaged in biased profiling of individuals of color and other minority groups. The law enforcement agencies have a significant financial interest in confiscating assets thanks to the federal forfeiture law. According to the equitable sharing program run by the Department of Justice, local law enforcement agencies that hand over property seized to the federal government are eligible to receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds from the property’s forfeiture (Pimentel, 2017). Furthermore, the federal legislation does not mandate collecting or reporting seizures made by the state, local, or federal governments.

Both the state and federal governments have passed legislation that specifies where forfeited funds can go and how they can be used. Section 881 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act authorizes civil forfeitures at the federal level (Holcomb et al., 2018). The legislation was revised in 1984 to permit civil forfeiture earnings to be placed in the General Fund of the United States Treasury. In 1986, this amendment was modified to permit federal law enforcement agencies to retain forfeiture revenue. It also introduced “equitable sharing,” which allocates the majority of forfeiture revenues (up to 80%) to State agencies if they were participating in the enforcement operation (Holcomb et al., 2018). States can profit handsomely from not only the federal forfeitures but also their state police operations, should they choose. Most states allow for the retention of forfeited property for governmental purposes. An even higher percentage of jurisdictions (83%) allow forfeiture proceeds to be used to cover forfeiture costs (Holcomb et al., 2018). Almost every jurisdiction specifies that forfeiture monies must be handed to police agencies or used for lawful purposes. Federal and state laws have given law enforcement a lot of flexibility in how they use forfeited assets; however, only about a quarter of states (less than 20%) use forfeiture monies for drug prevention or treatment, even though research shows that care and education are more effective than law enforcement in lowering drug-related crime (Holcomb et al., 2018). With fewer due process safeguards in civil forfeiture, security agencies have a considerable incentive to push the “war on drugs” to achieve budget pressures via forfeiture, notwithstanding the lack of proof of its efficiency (Crepelle, 2017).

Literature 1: The Effects of Civil and Criminal Forfeitures on Drug-Related Arrests

The article is similar to the other articles as it tackles the aspect of civil forfeitures discussing the concept and its effects. The second similarity between the article and the other four articles is that it tackles the incentives that drive law enforcement to concentrate on assets forfeiture. The benefits of assets forfeiture to law enforcement agencies and the equitable sharing program are all discussed in the article. However, the article goes a little further. It tackles the problem from a drug perspective, noting that there was a very minimal decline in the amounts of drug-related crimes in the united states despite the threat of asset forfeitures constantly revolving around the criminals.

Literature 2: Civil Rights Impacts of Civil and Criminal Asset Forfeitures in New Jersey.

This article, like the other three, discusses the impacts of asset forfeitures; however, it concentrates on the state of New Jersey. The article, however, differs from other articles in that it focuses on a specific state, in this case, New Jersey, contrary to the other articles that focus on the whole nation.

Literature 3: Evolving Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

This article, like other articles, tackles the concept of asset forfeiture, offering a small background on the topic. The article, however, differs primarily from the other three on the legal aspect. The other three articles do not focus on the legal aspect in depth, which is something unique that this article provides forfeiture readers and researchers.

Literature 4: Frustrating, Corrupt, Unfair: Civil Forfeiture in the Words of Its Victims

This article is unique due to offering a lens for the victims of asset forfeiture to air their opinion and views and tell their stories overall issue of asset forfeiture. The victims are being forced to endure the troubles and legal hurdles just to have their assets returned to them by the government. The article, however, discusses the topic of assets forfeiture, offering a brief background on the issue just like the other three articles.

Qualitative data will be used in this research. The paper will highly rely on qualitative data to analyze the concept of civil forfeiture, with the bulk of research materials being research articles and government sources. Peer-reviewed secondary sources, government, and major institutions publications help provide information hence will be heavily relied upon to provide substantial information on the issue of civil forfeiture of assets. Due to the numerous articles, both peer-reviewed and non-reviewed articles, the paper will concentrate much on the concept of civil forfeiture, its relation to the law, and other research facets, effects, and any other legislative aspect. Sutton & Austin 2015 stated that qualitative research as a means that is aimed at providing context and understanding to the audience necessitates a reflection on the researcher’s part before and throughout the research process. The aspect of reflexivity calls upon the researchers to reflect upon and articulate their subjectivities and positon; these may include any biases, worldviews, and perspectives. This enables the reader to shift or filter through any questions that had been asked, any data that was analyzed or collected, and the reported findings. Content analysis techniques will be used in analyzing the data. This technique is more favorable as it allows for data classification, summarization, and tabulation. Since most research articles entail both qualitative and quantitative data, the content analysis technique is more favorable in analyzing this form of data.

The research on civil forfeiture supports and anchors the topic by providing peer-reviewed information and data to help back the various assertions that have been made throughout the paper. The research on various elements of civil forfeiture helps provide various angles on the topic since civil forfeiture is a rather wide topic that needs to be analyzed from multiple angles. The relation of civil forfeitures to crime, the effects of civil forfeitures on the victims and the government, and the drive behind increased incentives by law enforcement to consider civil forfeiture as the first step in handling a crime or a suspected crime, among many other options that need to be explored. The research will tackle multiple of these elements helping build on the research topic and the proposal at large.


This research initiative aims to discuss civil forfeitures with a focus on the seizure of assets, the number of arrests made, and the role it plays in crime reduction. It will also be to focus on civil forfeiture of assets. There exists a myriad of aspects that surround civil forfeiture. Equitable sharing has been identified as one of the major incentives behind civil forfeitures, an aspect that this research will focus on. This research initiative aims to examine civil forfeiture law to answer various questions. The major question is whether the law needs to be changed to reduce the incentives of police officers or law enforcement and whether local or federal authorities seize assets during a raid or arrest.

Law enforcement and the civilian population tend to be the major stakeholders in the civil forfeiture law; however, in recent times, various other entities have increased participation in the law, such as the media. A particular interest of the fourth estate in the law is due to recent issues raised within the media concerning the seizure and loss of assets due to the law. The levels of controversy tend to affect the two major players, which are the law enforcement, who are often depicted as the aggressors and whose sole aim of seizing property, and the civilians, who are often depicted as victims. The fourth estate has helped shape the public’s view of the law. Legal experts and legislators are the final stakeholders of the law, with each party bearing varying views on the topic with no conclusive agreement on the topic from the two groups.


The research can be implemented in a small community organization to test whether civil forfeiture affects crime rates and analyze police and citizen behavior, amongst many other things. Contrary to the normal settings where arrests can be made anywhere, such as roads, major highways, or any other place in America, the implementation will only focus on community settings with various simulations being conducted. The community in which the research will be implemented will need to consist of various groups of people from all walks of life, in this case, low-income, middle income, and high-income individuals. Further, the community ought to have individuals from all races. This will help in collecting factual data. Reliability and validity are major points of concern in this research. This is the reason behind including all races and individuals from different income levels to help avoid research bias. The reliability and validity of data will also be crucial in testing for correlation.


To evaluate the initiative’s success, there will be a need to focus on the number of arrests and seizures of assets made. The civil forfeiture law was drafted to ensure that criminals do not benefit from the money they have earned as proceeds of crime. The seizure of these funds and assists both tangible and nontangible assets by the government or law enforcement agencies is a clear benchmark of the continuing success of the law. Any slow down is subject to investigation as to whether it is the rate of crime that has dropped or there is an unwillingness by the law enforcement agencies to seize their assets, especially for those suspected to be involved in crime. The success of the initiative will also be evaluated based on the amounts of properties retained by law enforcement. Seizure of assets is not enough in most cases; instead, the total number of arrests made and the completely locking behaviors.

Failure can be analyzed y the opposite of the stated proposes. The low number of employees and the levels of asset forfeiture will help analyze any failings. It would be considered a major failure when the government can make an area and asset seizure in the case it suspects the property is supported.


In conclusion, the research has chosen four separate research articles where it has focused on each article being summarized and a proposal for expansions being provided. Peer review allows for analyzing other researchers’ work and provides solutions. The study has also chosen another four articles for analysis in the literature review. In this analysis, the articles were examined for similarities and differences. The research initiative is aimed at discussing civil forfeitures, focusing on the seizure of assets, the number of arrests made, and the role it plays in crime reduction. It will also be to focus on civil forfeiture of assets.









Crepelle, A. (2017). Probable Cause to Plunder: Civil Asset Forfeiture and the Problems It Creates. Wake Forest JL & Pol’y7, 315.

Holcomb, J. E., Williams, M. R., Hicks, W. D., Kovandzic, T. V., & Meitl, M. B. (2018). Civil asset forfeiture laws and equitable sharing activity by the police. Criminology & Public Policy17(1), 101-127.

Pimentel, D. (2017). Civil Asset forfeiture abuses: Can state legislation solve the problem. Geo. Mason L. Rev.25, 173.

Sutton, J., & Austin, Z. (2015). Qualitative Research: Data Collection, Analysis, and Management. The Canadian journal of hospital pharmacy68(3), 226–231.

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