Forfeiture Law & Legal Definition


Forfeiture occurs when a person gives up money, property, or privileges to compensate for losses resulting from a breach of a legal obligation. In criminal law, it may also refer to the government seizure of property connected to illegal activity, and has been a major weapon in the Federal government's "war on drugs" since the mid-eighties. The Department of Justice established the National Assets Seizure and Forfeiture Fund in 1985 and realized $27 million from drug-related forfeitures that year. By 1992 amount of assets forfeited grew to $875 million. Many states have also enacted laws providing for forfeiture. Cities and other municipal governments have cooperated in forfeiture actions under both federal and state drug laws to deal with problems such as unsafe housing, prostitution, and drunk driving.