What is meant by criminal and civil forfeiture?

Occasionally a shocking tale regarding governmental taking of a citizen’s real and/or personal property becomes a prominent story, which, in turn, puts the subject of so-called “forfeiture” in the public eye.

Here are a couple quick examples, which, although hypothetical, have been closely mirrored by real-life cases many times:


  • Police taking cash from individuals and families based on a merely cited suspicion that it was derived from an unlawful activity, with no proofs offered
  • Authorities seizing a family home based on faulty evidence connecting it to drug activity

We call that government “overreach” on a page of our Houston criminal defense website at Hilder & Associates discussing criminal and civil forfeiture.

The concept is straightforward and simple. As we note on our site, forfeiture is a tool used by state and federal officials to take property “it has deemed was obtained through illegal means and to punish those convicted in the criminal courts [and through civil confiscation, as well].”

Our readers get the rationale, of course, to wit: Wrongdoers should not be allowed to retain the spoils of crime.

The problem that often arises with confiscation, though, is that above-cited overreach. It happens with distressing regularity across the country, with innocent individuals and families paying a heavy price for police error and/or bad-faith conduct .

Given the potentially severe consequences of forfeiture, as well as its sometimes problematic nature from a constitutional perspective (confiscation is, after all, a seizure of property and a punishment), the practice is often spotlighted and challenged in court.

Our attorneys have a lengthy and well-demonstrated record of advocating forcefully on behalf of persons who have had their property seized based on allegations that it was somehow linked with gains derived from criminal activity.

The unjustified forfeiture of property by regulators should never be tolerated. When it does occur, an adversely affected individual might reasonably want to contact a proven criminal defense attorney without delay.