Civil Forfeiture

low angle view of a statue

Civil Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture—sometimes called civil asset forfeiture—is as unjust as it is common. And that’s where we come in. We battle to stop law enforcement from taking property from people who have not even been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.

In civil forfeiture, you don’t need to have ever been charged with a crime to permanently lose your home, car, business, or cash. And in more than 40 states, police and prosecutors can keep a share of what they take in from civil forfeiture—a clear and appalling financial incentive.

In Missouri, civil forfeiture proceeds are not supposed to go to law enforcement, but state and federal authorities exploit a loophole called the “equitable sharing program.” Through equitable sharing, up to 80% of proceeds can be “shared” with state and local agencies with the federal government keeping what’s left. This happens every day in Missouri. 

Our team—which includes two former federal prosecutors, a former federal judicial law clerk, former law enforcement, and seasoned civil litigators with decades of experience—has successfully represented clients in federal and state civil forfeiture proceedings and has forced the government to give them back what is rightfully theirs. 

Outside of the courtroom, members of our team have testified In state legislative hearings and have offered expertise to media outlets, including NPR and The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, in an effort to change the law. In this area of law, our goal is to put ourselves out of business by eliminating civil forfeiture altogether—but until that happens, we’re here to fight for your rights in the courtroom.