Seizing Property for Forfeiture - Chapter 3 - Asset Forfeiture Law in the United States - 2nd Edition
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Asset Forfeiture in the United States - 2nd Edition - Hardcover
Asset Forfeiture in the United States - 2nd Edition - Electronic
§ 3-1 Overview
The Government may seize property for any number of
reasons that have nothing to do with asset forfeiture. Guns,
drugs, computers and bundles of currency may be seized from a
criminal at the time of his arrest, or during the execution of a
search warrant, because they constitute evidence of a crime.
Merchandise and currency may be seized at the border because
they were not properly declared for Customs purposes. Stolen
goods, animal products, and many other things may be seized
because they are contraband, because they are unlawful to
possess, or because they constitute a threat to health and safety.
In all of these cases and many others, property that is already
in the Government’s lawful possession may be forfeited under the
asset forfeiture laws without the Government’s having to take any
other steps to maintain possession of the property. There is no
requirement that property be seized specifically for forfeiture
before it can be forfeited. But there are times when the
Government wishes to forfeit property that is not already in its
possession, and so must seize it specifically for that purpose. This
chapter focuses on those seizures.1
It begins with the statutory authority for seizing property
pursuant to a warrant in civil and criminal forfeiture cases, the
probable cause standard for issuing the warrant, and the court’s
authority to issue a warrant for property located in another
district, and for property under the control of a state court.
Stefan D. Cassella, as a federal prosecutor, was one of the federal government's leading experts on asset forfeiture law for over thirty years, and now serves as an expert witness and consultant to law enforcement agencies and the financial sector as the CEO of AssetForfeitureLaw, LLC. As a Deputy Chief for the Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and later as the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore, MD, he litigated some of the Government's most significant forfeiture and money laundering cases and drafted many of the federal forfeiture and money laundering statutes. Mr. Cassella handled the forfeiture in one of the largest forfeiture cases ever brought by the United States - the forfeiture of $1.2 billion in assets from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), was the principal author of much of the federal forfeiture legislation, including the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), and the applicable sections of the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, and is the author of numerous law review articles on asset forfeiture and money laundering. In the 1980s, Mr. Cassella was Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a J.D. from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physics from Cornell University. This book was written in the author's private capacity as a lawyer, and the book does not in any way constitute an official statement of the law or policy or otherwise reflect the views of the United States Department of Justice or any of its agencies.