Unless the government is seeking forfeiture of property in the hands of third parties, the government’s heavy burden of proof and the relatively stringent safeguards afforded the criminally accused generally satisfy constitutional due process requirements for deprivation of property. Civil forfeitures, on the other hand, do not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt or compliance with the protections given criminal defendants. Frequently, the government can seize personal property without an opportunity for the owner to be heard.
Real property is more difficult for the government to seize, because there is no danger of it being commingled with other property or moved to another jurisdiction. Consequently, notice and the opportunity to be heard are nearly always required for the seizure of real property.