The Difference Between Criminal Forfeiture and Civil Forfeiture
Criminal forfeiture is the seizing of property directly linked to criminal activity. Civil forfeiture, however, occurs when the state seizes property in connection with certain crimes like drug offenses, DWI, prostitution, or fleeing police. In other words, they “bring charges” against your property. Civil forfeiture in Minnesota is an extremely complex subject. According to the National Institute for Justice, Minnesota earned a D+ on its use of civil forfeiture. Since civil forfeiture isn’t directly connected to the criminal prosecution, its implementation can be subjective, which leads to an overextension of its true purpose. According to the Institute for Justice, “Minnesota ranks 19th for federal forfeiture, with nearly $26 million in Department of Justice equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.”
When Does Criminal Forfeiture Occur?
The State of Minnesota often invokes criminal forfeiture when:
- The defendant has been convicted of, or is being prosecuted for a crime; and
- The property has a strong enough connection to the crime to justify taking it
- Commonly seized assets and property in criminal forfeiture actions can include:
- Businesses and/or business assets;
- Cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; and
- Other types of property
Criminal forfeiture often applies to certain offenses more than others, like drug trafficking, racketeering, or illegal gambling. When a property is attained through criminal means, this may constitute grounds for forfeiture. For example, if a home was purchased using laundered money, the home could be fair game for the government seizure.
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