Civil Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture cases are in rem proceedings—meaning that they are technically brought against the property itself rather than its owner. This legal fiction means that police and prosecutors can take and sell your cash, cars, homes or other property without having to convict you or even charge you with any wrongdoing. Fighting back means having to pay for a lawyer yourself or go it alone. And instead of the government having to prove your guilt, under civil forfeiture you must prove your innocence. It is an upside-down world that where the government holds all the cards and has the financial incentive to play them to the hilt.