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NCJ Number: 137159 Find in a Library
Title: Zero Tolerance for Forfeiture: A Call for Reform of Civil Forfeiture Law
Journal: Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:special issue (1991)  Pages:853-887
Author(s): C Meyer
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 35
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This essay addresses the fundamental problem with current civil forfeiture laws which are applied most often in drug-related charges, that is, many forfeitures result in a loss of property that is disproportionate to the offense.
Abstract: Although criminal forfeiture is increasingly being subjected to eighth amendment (prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment) scrutiny, civil forfeiture has survived eighth amendment challenge. This essay argues that the basis for making civil forfeiture immune from eighth amendment challenge, the guilty property fiction, is a relic of a bygone era. It is a mechanism now used solely to achieve in a civil proceeding, what may not be accomplished in a criminal proceeding due to a stricter burden-of-proof requirement and the application of constitutional rights for criminal defendants. Forfeiture is appropriately used to deprive drug traffickers of any property they have obtained through drug-trafficking proceeds. Forfeiture is inappropriate, however, when it involves the seizure of the property of drug users that has not been obtained through drug profits and that exceeds the maximum fine that would be paid for the charged offense under criminal law. After a discussion of the history and problems associated with civil forfeiture, this essay concludes that the current Federal civil forfeiture statute (21 U.S.C., Section 881) should be amended. Suggested amendments are offered. 180 footnotes
Main Term(s): Drug forfeiture; Forfeiture law
Index Term(s): Civil proceedings; Drug law enforcement; Law reform
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