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21 J. Legis. 156 (1995)


Civil forfeiture is one of the most potent weapons available to prosecutors in the “war on drugs” and against traditional organized crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture it is in rem and based on a legal fiction that property used in violation of law must be held responsible for harm that it has caused. The conceptual underpinnings of civil forfeiture are long established and can be traced back to English common law, but they also create the potential for abuse. There is currently federal legislation that considers scaling back the reach of civil forfeiture and recent Supreme Court decisions have also limited its application. Reform of civil forfeiture laws has the risk of diluting its effectiveness. Numerous issues need to be resolved before the enactment of new civil forfeiture legislation and the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions on forfeiture must be fully considered.



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