Forfeiture Is Hard for Owners, Easy for the Government
On top of the low value of many seizures and the high legal costs of challenging a forfeiture action, civil forfeiture also generally requires owners to take affirmative steps to even be eligible to recover their property. First, owners must initiate a lawsuit in court, file a claim with the seizing agency or prosecutor, or respond to the government in court. This can be far from straightforward, and it is only the beginning of a lengthy and costly process that stacks the deck against owners every step of the way. With no assurance that such a heavy investment of time and resources will pay off, it should come as little surprise that few owners even try to mount a challenge.