This glossary defines the terms most frequently used in connection with restitution and asset forfeiture in the federal criminal justice system, as well as general terms used in the civil justice system. It is not an exhaustive list.
Abscond. To go in a secretive manner out of the jurisdiction of the courts or to lie concealed, in order to avoid their processes.
Abstract of Judgment. A legal document completed by the U.S. Clerk of Court that, in summary form, certifies that a judgment has been entered in the victim's favor, including the amount of the judgment. The victim then registers the document in the counties or states in which the defendant is believed to have assets. Upon registration, the judgment becomes a lien against any property the defendant may own or have a legal interest in (both current and future, until such a lien is satisfied or removed by the issuing court), or any future inheritance of property the defendant may receive that could be applied towards the satisfaction of the judgment/lien.
Action. The case, cause, or controversy before a court.
Administrative Cap. Statutory limit that allows an investigative bureau to forfeit administratively most property whose value does not exceed a certain amount, along with illegally imported merchandise, facilitating conveyances, and monetary instruments, regardless of their value. (Refer to 19 U.S.C. 1607, "Conveyance," "Investigative Bureau," and "Monetary Instruments.")
Administrative Forfeiture. Process by which property may be forfeited, without judicial involvement, to the United States by the investigative agency or bureau that seized it.
Adoptive Seizure. Federal adoption and forfeiture of property seized exclusively through the efforts of state or local agencies. Investigative bureaus authorized by statute or regulation may adopt such seized property for forfeiture where the conduct giving rise to the seizure is in violation of federal law. Department of Justice policy generally requires a state or local agency to request federal adoption within 15 working days. (See "Fifteen Day Rule.")
Affidavit. A written statement of facts made under oath before a notary or court officer having the authority to administer oaths.
A.K.A., Alias. "Also known as," a former or fictitious name.
Answer. 1. A formal written statement by a defendant that responds to each allegation in a complaint. 2. The defendant's statement of the facts and objections to the plaintiff's brief. (Rule 12, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.)
Appraised Value. Estimated fair market value of the subject property at the time of seizure.
Arrest of Property. Actual seizure of property.
Asset. Any property capable of being seized and forfeited.
Assets Forfeiture Fund. Special fund within the Department of the Treasury, established by 28 U.S.C. 524(c), which is available to the Attorney General for the payment of expenses necessary to effect the seizure, detention, inventory, safeguarding, maintaining, advertising or selling of property under seizure, detention, or forfeiture pursuant to any law enforced or administered by the Department of Justice. Also known as "AFF" and "the Fund."
Assignment. The transfer to another of real or personal property in possession, or of any right or interest therein.
Assumption of Risk. A legal doctrine that may relieve perpetrators of liability for injuries to victims if the victim voluntarily entered into a situation knowing that there was a risk of injury.
Assignee. One to whom the subject property was assigned and who has standing as a claimant in a forfeiture action, provided he or she can show that the assignor had a legitimate ownership interest in the property when it was assigned and that the assignment was legally valid.
Assignor. One who makes an assignment of a property interest.
Attachment. Act or process of taking, apprehending, or seizing persons or property by virtue of a writ, summons, or other judicial order and bringing the same into custody of the court for the purpose of securing satisfaction of the judgment ultimately to be entered in the action.
Bankrupt. A person or business that, voluntarily or at the request of the creditors, is declared unable to sufficiently pay debts. The debtor's assets, as of the date bankruptcy is filed with the court, may be liquidated and divided among the creditors under bankruptcy law. This is done as quickly as possible so the debtor can pay creditors and start anew or reorganize. Debtor reorganization is designed to allow the debtor to pay his debts.
Bankruptcy. Properly defined as insolvency, that is, the inability of the debtor to pay his debts as they become due. However, it is technically a legal process under the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (See 11 U.S.C., Bankruptcy Code, effective October 1, 1979, and Bankruptcy Rules, effective August 1, 1983.)
Bankruptcy Court. A district court established for the administration of the bankruptcy laws and presided over by a bankruptcy judge.
Bond. Certificate or evidence of a debt; written commitment to pay a certain sum if particular conditions are not met.
Breach of Duty. Conduct that exposes others to unreasonable risk or harm.
Burden of Proof. The amount of evidence that one party must present in order to win his or her case. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is very high: "beyond a reasonable doubt" or nearly 100 percent of the evidence. In civil cases, however, the burden of proof on the victim or plaintiff is "a preponderance," or more than 50 percent of the evidence.
Calero-Toledo Defense. An affirmative defense whereby the claimant/owner must establish that he or she was neither involved in nor aware of the unlawful conduct giving rise to forfeiture, that he or she did not consent to the unlawful conduct or the involvement of the property in it, and that he or she took all reasonable steps to prevent the proscribed use of his property. Also known as the "Pearson-Yacht Defense."
Cash. Currency, negotiable instruments, or securities.
Causes of Action. The legal basis for a civil suit brought by a victim against a perpetrator.
Chattel. An article of personal property, as opposed to real property.
Choate Lien. A lien that is perfected so that nothing else is necessary to make it enforceable. (Identity of the lien, property subject to lien, and the amount of the lien have been established.)
Civil Action. A lawsuit filed by a victim to enforce private rights, most often to recover monetarily from injuries sustained or damage incurred as a result of the perpetrator's crime.
Civil Conspiracy. Tort in which one or more persons actually commit the physical acts constituting the crime while others, although not physically participating, agree to and assist the actual perpetrators (civil conspirators).
Civil Division. The division of the Department of Justice or court that oversees the conduct of civil (rather than criminal) litigation.
Civil Forfeiture. In certain crimes, the means used to transport or to conduct illegal activity can be ordered forfeited to the United States (or the victims of certain offenses). Items such as cars, boats, houses, etc. can be subject to forfeiture or an in rem proceeding, which is brought against the property rather than the wrongdoer based on the legal fiction that the property itself is guilty.
Claim and Cost Bond. The claim is a statement of the claimant's interest in the seized property. The cost bond is a check or surety in the amount of $5,000 or 10 percent of the value of the property, whichever is lower, but not less than $250. (See 19 U.S.C. 1608.) Both claim and cost bonds must be submitted to the seizing agency by a party asserting an interest in the subject property within 20 days of the initial publication of notice. The filing of a claim and posting of a cost bond stops administrative forfeiture proceedings. Thereafter, the seizing agency refers the case to the appropriate U.S. Attorney's office for judicial forfeiture proceedings.
Cognovit. Written authority of the debtor for entry of judgment against him.
Claimant. One who asserts a right to, or an interest in, property.
Collateral Estoppel. A legal doctrine which provides that, in some cases, the criminal conviction of perpetrators will be considered proof of those perpetrators' legal liability in civil actions brought by the perpetrators' victims.
Collectibility. A general term meaning the extent to which defendants/perpetrators have the financial means to pay judgments from assets on hand, assets reasonably to be expected in the future, or financial assistance from such sources as insurance coverage.
Comparative Negligence. A legal doctrine, adopted in most jurisdictions, which modifies the strict rules of contributory negligence by allowing negligent plaintiffs/victims to recover damages from defendants/perpetrators by reducing the amounts of damages by the applicable percentage of the plaintiff's/victim's negligence. (See also: Contributory Negligence.)
Compensation. Monetary reparations made to crime victims by a state or other governmental entity to recover "out-of-pocket" expenses incurred as a result of a crime.
Compensatory Damages. Damages paid to compensate victims for losses caused by the torts of the perpetrator. Such losses often include out-of-pocket expenses; loss of income, including savings, investment, and earnings; expenses such as medical bills, therapy, etc.; loss of present and future earning capacity; pain and suffering; financial support; etc.
Contributory Negligence. A legal doctrine, now modified in most jurisdictions, that any negligence on the part of the plaintiff/victim will bar civil lawsuits against defendant/perpetrators.
Consent Decree for Forfeiture. An agreement between the United States and the defendant in which the defendant relinquishes his or her interest in a particular assets and which states that the property is subject to forfeiture because it constitutes or was derived from proceeds of illegal activity or was used or intended to be used to facilitate illegal activity. Also known as a "consent decree."
Cost Bond. A bond given by a claimant to contest an administrative forfeiture action. The bond is deposited into the U.S. Marshals General Deposit Fund. (See "Claim and Cost Bond.")
Creditor. One who voluntarily trusts or gives credit to another for money or other property.
Criminal Forfeiture. An in personam proceeding instituted only in conjunction with a criminal charge against a particular defendant. (See "In Personam" and "Civil Forfeiture.")
Damages. Amounts of money awarded to winning parties in civil suits.
Debtor. One who owes another something or is under obligation arising from express agreement or implication of law to pay a sum of money.
Declaration of Forfeiture. Equivalent to a judicial order of forfeiture but issued by the seizing agency that administratively forfeited the property, rather than the court. Also known as a "declaration." (See "Order of Forfeiture.")
Deed. A legal instrument in writing which, when executed and delivered, conveys an estate or interest in real estate. (See "General Warranty Deed," "Special Warranty Deed," and "U.S. Marshal's Deed.")
Deed of Trust. An instrument used in some states, taking the place and serving the uses of a mortgage, by which the legal title to real property is placed in one or more trustees to secure the repayment of a sum of money or the performance of other conditions. Though differing in form from a mortgage, it is essentially a security.
Default Judgment. The judgment entered against a defendant for failure to plead (answer) or otherwise defend.
Defendants. Parties against whom civil actions are brought.
Delayed Discovery Rule. A legal doctrine that suspends the running of statutes of limitations during periods of time in which the victim did not discover, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence could not have discovered, the injuries that would lead to his or her causes of action against the defendant/perpetrator.
Demurrer. Motion by the defendant for the civil court to dismiss a motion for summary judgment. If granted, the plaintiffs loses the right to proceed with the civil action.
Deposition. Pretrial proceeding in which attorneys for parties in a civil case have the opportunity to examine, under oath, the opposing parties and potential witnesses in the case. Depositions are sworn and reduced to writing. The transcripts of such proceedings may be admissible in evidence at trials if the witnesses are no longer available or for purposes of impeachment.
Determining Official. The official who has the authority to grant or deny petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeiture, as follows: (1) for petitions in administrative forfeitures, the head of the seizing investigative bureau; (2) for petitions in judicial forfeitures, the Director, Asset Forfeiture Office, Criminal Division.
Discharged in Bankruptcy. The release of the bankrupt from all his or her provable debts, but not a release against such debts that are specifically non-dischargeable by the Bankruptcy Code. Court-ordered restitution is one such debt.
Encumbrance (Also Incumbrance). Legal liability on real property that does not prevent the passing of title but diminishes its value, such as a mortgage, judgment, or lien.
Entry of Judgment. Recording into the docket book a statement of the final judgment and entering copies thereof in the record of the case and the judgment box.
Equitable Sharing. The transfer of federally forfeited property to a requesting state or local law enforcement agency, reflecting the agency's participation in or other contribution to the seizure or forfeiture of the property.
Exculpatory. Evidence favorable to a party on the issue of guilt.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Body of procedural rules that govern all civil actions in U.S. District Courts and after which most of the states have modeled their own rules of civil procedure.
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Procedural rules that govern all criminal proceedings in U.S. District Courts and, where specified, before U.S. magistrates.
Fifteen-Day Rule. Department of Justice policy that a state or local seizing agency should file a request for federal adoption within 15 business days of the state or local seizure. Intended to avoid situations where seized properties are held for interminable periods prior to commencement of federal forfeiture proceedings.
Finance Litigation Unit. The section of the civil section in the U.S. Attorney's office responsible for the collection of fines and restitution.
FIRREA. Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989. This legislation pertains to federally insured financial institutions. Forfeiture provisions are contained at 18 U.S.C. 981-2.
First Party Action. Lawsuits brought by victims directly against their perpetrators.
Foreclosure. Procedure by which property is sold on default of the mortgagor in satisfaction of a mortgage debt.
Forfeiture. Loss of property without compensation when it is used in a manner contrary to the laws of the sovereign. A forfeiture may be either administrative or judicial. (See "Administrative Forfeiture" and "Judicial Forfeiture.")
Fraud. Intentional deception resulting in injury to another. Usually consists of a misrepresentation, concealment, or nondisclosure of a material fact, or at least misleading conduct, devices, or contrivance.
Fraudulent Conveyance. The transfer of property, the purpose of which is to defraud a creditor by hindering him by putting such property beyond his reach. Courts will set aside such conveyances. (See "Action to Set Aside Complaint," Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Form 13, 28 U.S.C. 2410.)
Fund. The Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund as established by 28 U.S.C. 524(c)(1). Also known as the Assets Forfeiture Fund.
Garnishee. A person who receives notice to retain custody of assets in his control that are owed to or belong to another. In a statutory garnishment proceeding, the garnishee may be directed to pay over to the creditor a portion of the debtor's property, such as wages, funds in bank accounts, etc.
Garnishment. A statutory procedure in which money or goods that are placed in the hands of a third party and that are due a debtor are attached by the creditor. (Rule 64, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C. 2405).
General Creditor. One whose claim or debt is not secured by a specific right to obtain satisfaction against the particular property subject to forfeiture. Also known as "unsecured creditor."
General Warranty Deed. Deed that assures a purchaser that title to the property is free and clear of liens, encumbrances, and covenants and insures the purchaser against any future claims against the property.
Homestead Laws. Laws that except certain property of a debtor from execution and forced sale by creditors. Devised to protect the property as long as it is occupied and used as a principal residence.
In Forma Pauperis. Latin for "in the manner of a pauper." The permission given to a person with no money to sue without payment of court fees or payment for representation. (Rule 24, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C. 1915.)
Inmate Financial Responsibility Program. A joint project between the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice for the collection of fines and restitution, in which an inmate's attitude toward meeting court-imposed obligations is measured when considering inmate status and benefits.
Innocent Owner. Bona fide purchaser for value who was reasonably without cause to believe the property was subject to forfeiture when acquired, or a legal owner (lienholder or mortgagee) of property subject to forfeiture, who has a vested interest superior to the claimant or defendant at the time of the acts giving rise to the forfeiture and who had no knowledge of or involvement in the offense.
In Personam. Means "against the person." Action seeking judgment against a person involving his personal rights and based on the jurisdiction over his person, as distinguished from a judgment against property.
In Rem. Action brought "against the thing" (the subject property) without regard to its owner, as distinguished from an action brought in personam.
Insolvent. Financial condition in which one is unable to meet his or her obligations as they become due or in which one's liability exceeds one's assets at any given time.
Interlocutory Sale. Sale of property before issuance of the final order of forfeiture. The original property may be sold and the proceeds of that sale treated as substitute property where the originally seized property is liable to perish, waste, or greatly depreciate in value during the pendency of the forfeiture proceeding, or if the expenses of keeping it are excessive. In a judicial forfeiture, the sale is conducted pursuant to a court order. (See "Stipulated Sale" and "Wasting Asset.")
Investigative Bureau. Department of Justice component agency authorized by federal statute to investigate and enforce forfeiture statutes. These agencies are the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and United States Marshals Service (USMS). With the exception of the USMS, deposits resulting from forfeitures by these agencies are made to the Fund. Federal agency investigative units outside the Department of Justice whose forfeitures result in deposits into the Fund are the U.S. Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Joint Investigation. Investigation in which one or more foreign, state, or local agencies participate with a federal law enforcement agency empowered to forfeit property.
Judgment. 1. The final decision or order of the court resolving the dispute and determining the rights and obligations of the parties. 2. An obligation, especially a debt arising out of a judicial decision. (Rule 54, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, et seq.)
Judgment, Amended. Upon motion of a party or the court itself made no later than 10 days after entry of judgment, the court may amend its findings and amend the judgment accordingly.
Judgment Lien. A lien imposed by statute for the benefit of a creditor. There must be a valid, final judgment for a definite amount of money. In many jurisdictions, it must also be recorded (docketed) to protect the creditor. It is a general lien that affects all of the debtor's property that is not exempt. Often the lien of the U.S. District Court is referred to as a "judgment lien" since state law provides that a lien is perfected or brought into existence by recording a copy of the federal district court judgment in the office of the county clerk (28 U.S.C. 1962).
Judgment Vacated. The original order is reversed and no longer applies.
Judicial Forfeiture. Either a civil forfeiture or a criminal forfeiture that results in a judicial order of forfeiture.
Jurisdiction. Power or legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case.
Lis Pendens. A pending suit. Jurisdiction, power, or control that a court acquires over property in a suit pending action until final judgment. (See "Notice of Lis Pendens.")
Lien. A claim or charge put on real or personal property for payment of a debt or performance of an obligation or duty. Used to help insure the payment of a debt.
Lienee. One whose property is subject to a lien.
Lienholder. A creditor whose claim or debt is secured by a specific right to obtain satisfaction against the particular property subject to forfeiture, liquidation, or hold.
Litigant. A party to a lawsuit.
Litigation. A case, controversy, or lawsuit. The effort made by the attorneys in court towards a legal end.
Magistrate Judge. Judge of the lower courts. U.S. magistrate judges may conduct preliminary and pretrial proceedings in minor offenses and in some district court proceedings.
Magistrate's Court. Court with jurisdiction restricted to handling minor offenses, small claims, or preliminary hearings. In federal district courts, magistrate judges may conduct many of the preliminary or pretrial proceedings in civil and criminal cases.
Marshal Sale. A sale held by a U.S. Marshal to dispose of foreclosed or forfeited property in order to regain money owed to a lender or to liquidate the asset.
Money Laundering. The conversion of illegally earned or otherwise tainted cash to an alternative form that conceals its origin, or ownership, often accomplished through steps taken to hide direct links to illegal activity and to allow the use of proceeds of illegal activity.
Monetary Instruments. Currency; traveler's checks; negotiable instruments (including personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashier's checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such a form that title thereto passes upon delivery; incomplete instruments (including personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashier's checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) signed but with the payee's name omitted; and securities or stock in bearer form or otherwise in such a form that title thereto passes upon delivery.
Mortgage. An interest in land created by a written instrument providing security for the performance of a duty or the payment of a debt.
Mortgagee. The lender; the party who advances the funds for a mortgage loan and in whose favor the property serving as security is mortgaged.
Mortgagor. The borrower; one who has all or some title to property and pledges it by written instrument as security for a debt.
Motion. A written application to the court requesting an order or ruling in favor of the applicant. Motions are generally made in reference to a pending action.
Motion Hearing. A legal proceeding held in response to a motion made by the defendant's or plaintiff's attorney.
Negligence. A legal doctrine providing that one may be liable to another if the following four conditions are met: one person owes a legal duty to another, he or she materially breaches that duty, the breach is the proximate cause of the other's injury, and the other person suffers damages.
Net Proceeds. Forfeited cash or gross receipts from the sale of forfeited property less allowable asset management and case-related expenses, third-party interests, and any award based on the value of the forfeiture.
Notice of Lis Pendens. Notice filed on public record for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation and that they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.
Occupancy and Indemnity Agreement. Agreement between the U.S. Marshal and a resident of real property subject to forfeiture, which allows that resident to continue occupying the property subject to certain terms and conditions pending conclusion of the forfeiture action. Also known as "occupancy agreement."
Official Use. Utilization of forfeited property by a law enforcement agency in the direct performance of law enforcement activities.
Order of Forfeiture. A judgment of a court, entered in writing, which declares that the subject property has been forfeited to the United States and will be disposed of in accordance with law. In a criminal forfeiture, a "preliminary" order of forfeiture is entered after a defendant is convicted and upon the return of a special verdict finding that a defendant's property is subject to forfeiture. A "final" order of forfeiture is entered after publication if no claim is filed. If a claim is filed, the final order is entered after the conclusion of an ancillary hearing. (See "Declaration of Forfeiture.")
Owner. One having a legal and possessory interest in property seized for forfeiture. (See "Straw Owner.")
Perpetrators. Persons who have criminally injured victims.
Plaintiff. One who brings a suit asking for the enforcement of a right or the recovery of relief from a wrong.
Professional Liability Insurance. Insurance coverage issued to "professional" persons: doctors, dentists, investment bankers and counselors, accountants, etc., to cover any losses covered by malpractice in the course of their professional services.
Parallel Proceedings. Civil and criminal proceedings involving the same property and the same underlying criminal conduct that are investigated, instituted, and pursued concurrently.
Person. An individual, partnership, corporation, joint business enterprise, or other entity capable of owning property.
Personal Notice. Procedure by which notice of the pending forfeiture action is personally served upon all persons, including lienholders, whose identities and addresses are reasonably ascertainable and whose rights and interests in the property will be affected by the action.
Personal Property. Tangible and intangible property, including rights, privileges, interest, claims, and securities.
Proximate Cause. The "cause in fact" of injury to victims; a "cause" without which the victim's injuries would not have occurred.
Proceeds. Property (including personal property, real property, and attorney's fees) acquired by, or exchanged with other property acquired by, unlawful activity. (See "Tracing.")
Process. Any means used by a court to acquire or exercise its jurisdiction over a person or specific property. For example, in a civil judicial forfeiture case, process consists of the verified complaint and the summons.
Property. Property of any kind capable of being owned or possessed. May include a controlled substance, raw material, product, container, equipment, money, real property, vessel, vehicle, or aircraft. In the context of equitable sharing, tangible personal and real property other than cash.
Publication. Requirement that notice of a forfeiture action be published for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the district where the action was filed.
Punitive Damages. Damages awarded to victims against perpetrators, over and above compensatory damages, in order to punish or make an example of the perpetrator.
Quick Release. Process by which a seizing agency returns property to a party who has a good faith interest in the property and no reason to know of its illegal use or the wrongdoer's criminal record or reputation. Generally dependent on the recipient's execution of an agreement to hold the government harmless and to pay the costs incurred by the seizing agency.
Quit Claim Deed. Deed of conveyance operating by way of release. Intended to pass any title, interest, or claim which the grantor may have in the premises, but not professing that such title is valid, nor containing any warranty or covenants of title.
Realty. Real property as distinguished from personal property. Land and whatever is erected, growing on, or affixed to land.
Relation Back Doctrine. Provides that all right, title, and interest to forfeitable property, including proceeds traceable to unlawful activity, vests in the government at the moment the unlawful activity occurs.
Res. Personal or real property subject to forfeiture.
Respondent. A party who answers. Respondents generally are answering parties to petitions, summons enforcement, and forfeiture actions.
Responsive Pleading. Formal request of the defendant in civil court to dismiss the case against him or her because of procedural issues, such as lack of jurisdiction, improper service of process, statutes of limitations, etc.
Restitution. The act of making good or giving the equivalent for any loss, damage, or injury. Restitution may be ordered paid to the government for transmittal to the victims or directly to victims of the crime. Restitution is generally limited to the loss described in the counts of conviction, although the defendant can agree to pay other victims as part of a plea negotiation.
Search Warrant. A document designed to be used to search for forfeitable assets (bank records, purchase receipts/orders, real estate records, insurance appraisals, loan applications, financial statements, wills, etc.), in addition to documentary evidence of criminal activity.
Secured Creditor. One whose claim or debt is secured by a specific right to obtain satisfaction against the particular property subject to forfeiture.
Security Interest. Form of interest in property that provides that the property may be sold on default in order to satisfy the obligation for which the security interest is given.
Seized Asset Deposit Fund. The holding account administered by the U.S. Marshals Service for seized cash pending the resolution of forfeiture cases. Also known as the SADF.
Seizing Agency. Federal agency that has seized the property or adopted the seizure of another agency and has the responsibility for administratively forfeiting the property.
Seizure. The taking possession of a person or property by legal process.
Settlement. Agreement among the parties to a lawsuit to end the suit without trial; usually the plaintiff agrees to drop the lawsuit for a fixed sum of monetary damages paid by the defendant.
Service of Process. The delivery of writs, summonses, subpoenas, or rules to the party to whom they are addressed. Service of process must be carried out by a process server in order to be valid.
Sharing. The transfer of cash, property, or proceeds realized through federal forfeitures pursuant to the Attorney General's Guidelines on Seized and Forfeited Property. (See "Equitable Sharing.")
Smurfing. The practice of dividing financial transactions into amounts less than $10,000 to avoid triggering bank reporting requirements. Often, a number of persons (smurfs) are employed by the offender to carry out the transactions.
Special Warranty Deed. Deed that assures a grantee (purchaser) that the current grantor (seller) has done nothing to encumber the property while it was in his or her possession.
Standing. The ability of a person to assert an interest in seized or forfeited property. A legal concept that a person has an ownership or possessory interest in property so as to exercise dominion and control over it. A person with standing may contest a forfeiture action.
Statute of Limitations. A period of time, set by law, after which a civil action cannot be brought.
Stay of Civil Forfeiture Proceedings. The suspension of a civil forfeiture action pending the conclusion of a related criminal investigation or action. Title 21 U.S.C. 881(I) provides that the government may move to stay a civil forfeiture action upon a showing of good cause when an indictment or information has been filed in a related criminal proceeding.
Stipulated Sale. A sale of seized property, prior to the final order of forfeiture, by agreement of all the parties to a forfeiture who assert an interest in the property. (See "Interlocutory Sale.")
Stipulation for Compromise Settlement. The resolution of a civil forfeiture action by the U.S. Attorney, or by the U.S. Attorney in consultation with the Asset Forfeiture Office, Criminal Division, and the Deputy Attorney General, that forgoes the need for trial.
Straw Owner. A "front man" who holds minimal title to the subject property but lacks dominion and control over it. Such a party lacks standing as a claimant to contest a forfeiture action.
Subrogation. The substitution of one person in the place of another with reference to a lawful claim, demand, or right, so that he or she who is substituted succeeds to the rights of the other in relation to a debt or claim and its rights as a remedy.
Subsequent Purchaser. Party who purchases the subject property after commission of the underlying offense or after seizure. Such a party may have standing to contest a forfeiture action.
Substitution of Assets. Procedure by which the court, in a criminal forfeiture action, may order forfeiture of other property belonging to the defendant where the original property subject to forfeiture is unavailable upon conviction. See 21 U.S.C. 853(p).
Summary Judgment. Judgment given on the basis of pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits presented for the record without any need for a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. (See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.)
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). An order of the court prohibiting the performance of an activity likely to result in irreparable harm. In a criminal forfeiture case, the issuance of a TRO restrains, prohibits, and enjoins a person from attempting or completing any action that would affect the marketability or value of the property, such as transferring or selling it. A TRO is of short duration, usually lasting only 10 days, unless extended by the court. (See 21 U.S.C. 853 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65.)
Third-Party Actions. Lawsuits brought against persons whose negligence or gross negligence has facilitated the commission of a tort by a defendant.
Third-Party Interest. Interest of a third party in a matter between two parties (primary parties). For example, in a forfeiture action, a lienholder has a third party interest.
Title. Evidence of an ownership interest in property.
Tolling of Statute of Limitations. Suspension of the running of a statute of limitations.
Tort. A civil wrong (as opposed to criminal offense) committed by a perpetrator against a victim. A defendant/perpetrator can be subject to both criminal and civil charges for his or her actions.
Tracing. Process of identifying property that was purchased or acquired with money derived from unlawful activity.
Trier of Fact. In civil cases, evidence is heard as to the facts, and the facts must be applied in the context of the applicable law. The entity that decides which facts are true is called the "trier of fact." This is usually a jury, but in non-jury cases, the trier of fact is a judge.
U.S. Marshal's Deed. Deed that conveys to a grantee (purchaser) only such interest in the property as a grantor (seller) may have. The grantee assumes responsibility for any claims brought against the property. Same as a quit claim deed.
Unsecured Creditor. One who has a claim against the wrongdoer but no specific claim against the property subject to forfeiture. Such a party lacks standing to contest a forfeiture action. Also known as a general creditor.
Verified Complaint. A complaint that is sworn as correct upon an affidavit or oath.
Verified Complaint of Forfeiture. A complaint in a civil forfeiture action must be "verified" so as to cause an authorized government official to be satisfied that the allegations in the complaint are true, based either on personal knowledge or on information and belief.
Violator. Person whose use of the property in violation of the law subjected such property to forfeiture.
Waiver of Bond. In an administrative forfeiture, the procedure in which the bond requirement is waived for a person claiming an interest in the seized property, upon showing satisfactory proof of financial inability to post bond. (See "In Forma Pauperis.")
Warrant of Arrest In Rem. Form of process filed with or after the filing of a verified complaint. Gives the court jurisdiction over the property to be seized. Usually must be served within the district of issue. Historically, it has not included a finding of probable cause.
Warrant of Seizure. Form of process that secures a judicial determination of probable cause but does not confer jurisdiction upon the court issuing the warrant.
Wasting Asset. Property whose value may diminish after the time of its seizure so that an interlocutory sale may be justified, or that has so diminished in value that forfeiture is no longer practicable. For example, realty in general; livestock; a business operating under state or local licensing requirements where seizure may result in suspension or revocation of the license; and cars, planes, or boats that are expensive to maintain. (See "Interlocutory Sale.")
White-Collar Crime. A non-violent criminal act involving deceit, concealment, subterfuge, or other fraudulent activity.
Writ of Entry for Inspection. Order of the court that allows the U.S. Marshal (or his or her deputies) to conduct a reasonable and necessary structural and physical inspection.
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