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Purpose of Forfeiture: Could You Be In The Line Of Fire?

**This is the second blog entry in a series - All You Need to Know about the Government & Asset Forfeiture**

Asset forfeiture is a legal process where the government pursues a person's property on the basis that it is improperly connected to crime. The two most common forfeiture justifications for the government to take private property are that either the property is ill-gotten gains (proceeds) of crime or that such property, like a vehicle, is used to assist (facilitate) a crime. Because it is designed to take away the largest motivator for most crimes which is greed, forfeiture has become one of the most innovative and effective efforts for the Department of Justice. In fact, administrative, civil and criminal forfeiture recoveries have resulted in the growth of the DOJ's Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF) to $1.8 billion in 2011. (GAO Analysis of DOJ data) Obviously, such huge numbers would raise the eyebrows of every successful business... let alone a government entity strapped for funds. The Treasury Department even created its own asset forfeiture fund known as the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF).

It should be pointed out that the purpose of such recovery efforts is not simply greed on the government's part. These funds are often used for crime victims, recovery of lost taxpayer funds, DOJ operations and personnel, local law enforcement agencies, and recently, non-law-enforcement congressional programs. These goals make forfeiture efforts attractive to politicians because of their moral worthiness and political popularity. This kind of political capital means that forfeiture is here to stay and is likely to continue growing. 

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