Civil forfeiture —a process by which the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime—is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today.
Civil forfeiture cases proceed under the legal fiction that cash, cars or homes can be “guilty”—leading to such bizarre case names as United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Mass. But because these cases are technically civil actions, property owners receive few, if any, of the protections that criminal defendants enjoy. To make matters worse, when law enforcement agencies take and sell your property, they frequently get to keep all the proceeds for their own use. This gives agencies a direct financial incentive to “police for profit” by seizing and forfeiting as much property as possible.
It’s time to end civil forfeiture. No one should lose his or her property to law enforcement without being convicted of a crime, and the police shouldn’t profit from taking property.
Frequently Asked Questions about Forfeiture
Are you a victim of Civil Forfeiture?
Civil forfeiture laws allow the government to take cash, cars, homes and other property suspected of being involved in criminal activity.
End Civil Forfeiture
The Institute for Justice aims to curtail, and ultimately, abolish civil forfeiture, one of the gravest abuses of power in the country today. IJ has filed more than two dozen cases challenging civil forfeiture nationwide. In 2019, IJ secured a landmark victory at the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled unanimously in Timbs v. Indiana that the Eight Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause protects Americans against state and local forfeitures.