Drug Forfeitures

Relation Back

One of the principal variations among statutes is when the forfeiture  takes effect. Federal law and the laws of some states provide that the date of the forfeiture relates back to the date of the illegal act. Others give effect to the forfeiture upon seizure of the property. Still others provide that forfeiture is effective upon the filing of notice in the public records. The implications of these distinctions are enormous. If the relation back principle is recognized, the government can more easily reach property in the hands of third parties and thereby prevent criminal defendants from avoiding forfeiture by transferring assets.