Copyright (c) 1996 Washington University
Washington University Law Quarterly
RECENT DEVELOPMENT: NECESSITY OF CONVICTION BEFORE FORFEITURE UNDER MISSOURI'S CRIMINAL ACTIVITY FORFEITURE ACT
74 Wash. U. L. Q. 525
Shannon Jade Ryser
Asset forfeiture laws allow federal and state governments to confiscate property connected with illegal activity. These laws provide the government with valuable tools to punish criminals and ensure that they do not benefit from their crimes. 1 However, the government can apply these same laws in a shocking manner by seizing property from innocent individuals never even charged with a crime. Until recently, such seizures were possible in Missouri. In a decision issued in April, 1995, 2 the Missouri Court of Appeals acted to ensure that Missouri's asset forfeiture law is applied only against convicted criminals.
This Recent Development examines the rights of criminal defendants in forfeiture proceedings in Missouri. Part II begins with Missouri statutory law. Part III then considers how state courts apply this law by examining a recent decision of the Missouri Court of Appeals. Part IV explores federal forfeiture law and the constitutional limitations that may apply to state and federal forfeiture actions. Part V offers a brief conclusion.
II. Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act
On March 17, 1986, Missouri enacted the Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act (CAFA). 3 This Act authorizes civil forfeiture 4 of any property connected to criminal activity 5 and establishes a civil procedure for handling asset forfeiture actions. 6 CAFA is an extremely stringent asset forfeiture statute. It contains an expansive definition of what constitutes "criminal activity." 7 CAFA also contains a broad list of property subject to forfeiture under the Act, including "all property ...
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