The difference between civil forfeiture and criminal law is that in civil forfeiture the "stuff" is guilty instead of the person.
For example if your buddy Fred borrows your car to drive to Chicago, and he just coincidentally happens to score 25 pounds of high grade whatever drug they're selling on the street these days to bring back, then he gets busted, your car is guilty of transporting drugs.
You're not guilty of transporting drugs, so you won't go to jail. Fred's going to jail. And your car is going to jail - or rather your car is going to civil forfeiture land. And you have no recourse. It doesn't matter that you thought Fred was going to take his dying mother chicken soup. And for that matter Fred very well might have taken his dying mother chicken soup. Fred might be a fine son as well as a drug runner.
Your car is still gone. Too bad, so sad. It wasn't Fred's car, but it's still guilty.
That's civil forfeiture, or at least the civil forfeiture I've seen in some drug cases. I'm sure jurisdictions vary.
I am glad that KyJim and Al pointed out that the BATF doesn't really have that much expansion. I had seen the Washington Times article, but not the actual regulations.
"The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
NRA Endowment Member
Last edited by mrbatchelor; September 18, 2012 at 05:57 PM.