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32 pages
ISBN 0-945999-50-X
© 1996

Civil Forfeiture as a “Sin Tax”

by Donald J. Boudreaux, Adam C. Pritchard

Modern civil forfeiture laws have three frightening aspects. First, property owners who have never even been charged with a crime—much less actually convicted—can have their property seized by the government. Second, persons trying to prevent seizure of their property by the government have the burden of proving they are innocent of any wrongdoing or had any knowledge of wrongdoing involving the property (for example, a landlord must prove he or she had no knowledge of any criminal activity occurring in an apartment they rented to a third party). Third, the government keeps the proceeds from the liquidation of forfeited properties. The authors assert that civil forfeiture laws waste criminal justice resources and violate civil liberties and constitutional safeguards meant to protect the innocent. Rather than reduce crime, the authors argue, civil forfeiture acts to promote crime.