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NCJ Number: 119215 Find in a Library
Title: Seizures of Private Property in the War Against Drugs: What Process is Due?
Journal: Southwestern Law Journal  Volume:41  Issue:5  Dated:(February 1988)  Pages:1111-1134
Author(s): P A Winn
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 24
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Recent litigation that challenges the government's power to conduct summary forfeiture seizures of drug dealers' private property prior to a hearing is reviewed.
Abstract: In 1984, as part of an initiative to take the profit out of crime, Congress extended the power of Federal law enforcement agencies to seize and forfeit the property of drug dealers. To provide additional funding for the war on drugs, Congress permitted these agencies to retain forfeited property for their own use. Because of the extremely broad scope of forfeiture laws, their summary procedures may threaten not only drug dealers but also innocent third parties. Basic property categories subject to forfeiture under Federal statutes include contraband, derivative contraband, proceeds, and derivative proceeds. Lower courts have begun to impose constitutional limits on the power of authorities to carry out forfeiture seizures. These courts generally hold that the Constitution requires at least an ex parte hearing before a judicial officer prior to the seizure of property for forfeiture and that, absent such protection, seizure provisions of forfeiture statutes violate the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure of the Fourth Amendment and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Justice Department relies heavily upon the Calero-Toledo case as authority for the proposition that forfeiture seizures constitute an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. It is argued that a preseizure judicial review would place a minimal burden on law enforcement officers, provide an important safeguard against erroneous property deprivations, and meet the constitutionally required constraint on what is otherwise the unrestricted power of government to seize private property. 183 references.
Main Term(s): Drug law enforcement
Index Term(s): Right to Due Process; Search and seizure laws
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