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Legislation Litigation Regulation United States Supreme Court White Collar Crime

A Broadening Consensus to Narrow Asset Forfeiture

The Supreme Court as a whole appears aligned and motivated to review critically federal and state asset forfeiture procedures. In addition, Attorney General Sessions last month restored the federal forfeiture of property seized by state and local law enforcement ("federal adoptions"), but with certain additional safeguards.


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Asset forfeiture has a long history in our legal system. We inherited it from the British, who used forfeiture as a weapon to combat piracy and customs offenses on the high seas. Modern asset forfeiture has expanded its reach from its maritime origins to a broad range of crimes in a three-part system of criminal, civil and administrative forfeiture. The three systems have varying procedures, but all allow the government to forfeit property that has been illegally obtained or used.

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