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Last Modified: December 28, 2022


“The concept of forfeiture is used in a variety of settings in the legal system. For example, property such as an automobile or house that is used in the commission of a crime i.e., selling a controlled substance may be forfeited to the state in a civil proceeding” (Utah Court). “Forfeiture is a punishment annexed by law to some illegal act or negligence in the owner of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, whereby he loses all his interest therein, and they go to the party injured as a recompense for the wrong which he alone, or the public together with himself, hath sustained.” “The loss of goods or chattels, as a punishment for some crime or misdemeanor by the party forfeiting, and as a compensation for the offense and injury committed against him to whom they are forfeited” (Black’s Law Dictionary).

Example Sentence

The man’s real estate properties were sequestered by the mayor’s office in compliance to the forfeiture order of the court.

Case Study

In the case State v. Keebler, the appellant identified as a certain Rick Dee Keebler was stopped by Utah Highway Patrol for a traffic violation sometime on September 20, 1994. A search conducted on the 1980 Cadillac used by Keebler yielded large quantities of controlled substances that include methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana and $3767 cash. The State of Utah moved for the forfeiture of the car as well as the cash that was found.  The car they claimed was used to facilitate the transportation, receipt, possession, or concealment of illegal narcotics in direct violation of Utah Controlled Substances Act. Keebler filed an appeal on the forfeiture claiming his imprisonment is already the punishment for his violation of the Utah Controlled Substances Act and taking away his money and car is “double jeopardy”. The Utah Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision and Mr. Keebler’s money and car were forfeited in favor of the State.

Other Important Information

Properties that are used for drug trafficking and other illegal activities can be seized and forfeited in favor of the State when proving beyond reasonable doubt that the use of these properties violated Utah Controlled Substances Act.   Other terms that are similar to forfeiture is confiscation.  Many times officers or government authorities use these terms interchangeably.

Photo “Car being towed” copyright by Tmdean.