Criminal charges can result in the forfeiture of assets, leading to the loss of property and funds.
Several ways exist through which this could happen, impacting an individual’s possessions and financial stability.
1. Direct ties to criminal activity
For a person charged and convicted of a crime, particularly those involving illegal activities like drug trafficking or money laundering, the court may order the forfeiture of assets connected to the illegal behavior. These could be homes, vehicles, cash or any property linked to the criminal offense.
2. Proceeds from criminal actions
Asset forfeiture might occur if the property or money in question came via criminal actions. If an individual profits from illegal activities, the court can order the forfeiture of the proceeds. For instance, if someone commits fraud and obtains money through deceitful means, those earnings might be subject to forfeiture.
3. Instrumentality in criminal acts
In situations where property is essential in the commission of a crime, it can be subject to forfeiture. For example, law enforcement may seize vehicles used to transport illegal goods or tools employed in a crime as they play a role in the illegal activity.
4. Failure to prove the legitimacy of assets
In some cases, failure to establish the legitimacy of one’s assets or funds can result in their forfeiture. If an individual cannot provide evidence they obtained assets through legal means, these authorities may seize their possessions.
In FY 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service received 17,269 forfeited assets. Understanding the potential link between criminal charges and the loss of assets is important for individuals to navigate the legal system and safeguard their belongings.