Choose your weapon. Is civil forfeiture really necessary, or is it an undesirable shortcut to real law enforcement?

Author:Stefan D. Cassella
Position:Asset Forfeiture Law LLC, Laurel, Maryland, USA
Pages:340-344
SUMMARY

Purpose Civil forfeiture is an increasingly common way for governments to relieve criminal wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes and to restore the property to the victims of the offense. The question that is asked, however, is this: Is civil forfeiture an essential tool that is needed to fill a gap in the arsenal of weapons available to law enforcement or is it a prosecutorial... (see full summary)

 
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Choose your weapon
Is civil forfeiture really necessary,
or is it an undesirable shortcut to real
law enforcement?
Stefan D. Cassella
Asset Forfeiture Law LLC, Laurel, Maryland, USA
Abstract
Purpose Civil forfeiture is an increasingly common way for governments to relieve criminal
wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes and to restore the property to the victims of the offense. The
question that is asked, however, is this: Is civil forfeiture an essential tool that is needed to ll a gap in
the arsenal of weapons available to law enforcement or is it a prosecutorial shortcut that allows cases to
be closed without obtaining the evidence needed to obtain a criminal conviction in cases that should be
prosecuted criminally. The answer is that it is both. When properly used, civil forfeiture is an essential
tool that provides a means of recovering property, but it is a tool that can also be used to save time and
money even though the investment of those resources in bringing a criminal to justice would better
serve the public interest. The aim of this paper is to show why this is so.
Design/methodology/approach Analysisof the use of civil forfeiture in the USA.
Findings Civil forfeitureis an essential law enforcement tool.
Originality/value While undeniablyan essential law enforcement tool, civil forfeiture is sometimesused
as a shortcut to conserveresources.
Keywords Civil forfeiture, Burden of proof, Fugitives, Interests of justice
Paper type Viewpoint
Introduction
Civil or non-conviction-based forfeiture is an increasingly common way for
governments to relieve criminal wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes and to
restore the property to the victims of the offense. Led by the USA, the UK, South
Africa and Australia, many countries are now adopting civil forfeiture regimes to
allow for the recovery of criminal proceeds without the necessity of obtaining a
criminal conviction.
The question that is asked, however, is this: is this necessarily a good thing? Is civil
forfeiture an essential tool that is needed to ll a gap in the arsenal of weaponsavailable to
law enforcement or is it a prosecutorial shortcut that allows cases to be closed without
obtaining the evidence needed to obtain a criminal conviction in cases that should be
prosecuted criminally.
The answer is that it is both. When properly used, civil forfeiture is an essential tool
that provides a means of recovering property, preventing its illegal use and restoring it
to victims in situations in which a criminal conviction is either impossible or
unnecessary. But it is a tool that can also be used to save time and money even though
the investment of those resources in bringing a criminal to justice would better serve
the public interest.
JMLC
21,3
340
Journalof Money Laundering
Control
Vol.21 No. 3, 2018
pp. 340-344
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1368-5201
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-09-2017-0047
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1368-5201.htm

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