Asset forfeiture or asset seizure is a form of confiscation of assets by the state. In the United States, it is a type of criminal justice financial obligation. It typically applies to the alleged proceeds or instruments of crime. This applies, but is not limited, to terrorist activities, drug related crimes, and other criminal and even civil offenses. Some jurisdictions specifically use the term “confiscation” instead of forfeiture. The alleged purpose of asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal activity by confiscating assets that potentially could have been beneficial to the individual or organization.
Legal systems distinguish between criminal and civil proceedings. Criminal prosecutions regulate crimes against society as a whole or against the government. Penalties for conviction of a violation of a criminal law typically includes being sent to prison, jail or some other form of incarceration. Civil litigation involve disputes either between individuals or individuals and the government. At the conclusion of civil litigation one side can be ordered to pay money [damages] to the other side. Courts also have the authority to order one party to do or not do a specific thing in order to resolve civil disputes. Because of the potential for a loss of liberty, defendants in a criminal case will be provided an attorney at public expense if they are unable to pay for their own lawyer. The same is generally not true in civil cases although there are exceptions. In order for an individual to be found guilty of a crime the government has to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. There are several different standards of proof in a civil case, the most common is a preponderance of the evidence which is described as anything over fifty percent.