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Asset Forfeiture

"Asset Forfeiture" refers to the process of confiscating money and property that represent either proceeds of crimes, or property used in the commission of crimes. Forfeiture is an important deterrent to criminal conduct and facilitates restitution in criminal cases that involve victims who have suffered losses.
The Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section supports the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Criminal Division who prosecute money laundering cases, and/or are seeking the forfeiture of criminal proceeds and other property as part of the sentence in a criminal case. The attorneys and paralegals in the Section also handle their own case load of criminal and civil forfeiture cases. Civil forfeiture may be pursued when property is subject to forfeiture apart from a federal criminal case.
In order to seize assets, a law enforcement officer must sign an affidavit under oath and satisfy a federal judge that there is a lawful basis for the seizure. 
Some asset forfeiture cases involve illegal-source income, where the suspect obtained the money by committing a crime.  Some of these cases have victims who deserve restitution – such as victims of fraud or theft.  Others have no victims who receive restitution, such as drug dealing.
Other asset forfeiture cases involve legal-source income, that is, where the suspect earned the money lawfully, then violated the law by trying to conceal the cash.  Illegal structuring crimes are prosecuted when warranted and can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  Usually those cases involve tax fraud.  In those cases, the victims include citizens deprived of tax revenue and businesses that have higher overhead because they play by the rules.
Some cases do not warrant federal criminal prosecution, but there is sufficient evidence for a civil forfeiture.
For examples of recent asset forfeiture prosecutions in Maryland, click on these links:


Forfeiture &/or Money Laundering





Updated July 29, 2015