Asset forfeiture, also sometimes called civil forfeiture, is one of the many potential penalties that can result from getting charged with a drug crime. This means that your assets can be taken away if law enforcement officers claim that they were somehow involved in your drug crime.
What is forfeiture?
One of the major problems with fighting a forfeiture proceeding is that, unlike the actual drug charges, it is a civil case. It is also, technically, a case against your property, not against you. One important consequence is that, while criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to a public defender, their property is not. Further, the burden of proof in a forfeiture case is far lower than in a criminal case, which means prosecutors will have to work less to prove their claims that your property was involved in drug crimes. Generally, forfeiture can happen even if you are not actually convicted of the drug crime that gave rise to the whole matter; recent changes in California law do require a conviction for forfeiture of an asset worth less than $40,000, a vehicle or real estate.