CAFRA Seizures

In 2000, the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) was signed into law. This act was passed as a response to a seizure system that had become rife with abuse as law enforcement agencies seized personal property from citizens, putting to their own use. CAFRA relieves individuals who have had their property wrongly seized by enacting a variety of reforms. Now, when merchandise is seized, it is categorized in one of two ways; as a CAFRA seizure, or as a non-CAFRA seizure. This seems simple enough, but what is the difference between the two?

In our area of practice, CAFRA applies to a seizure where an agency other than Customs is cited; this could include departments such as the Department of Transportation, EPA, the Food and Drug Administration, etc. As long as there is an agency involved other than Customs, it is considered a CAFRA seizure and more citizen-friendly rules are applicable. The exact opposite is true for non-CAFRA seizures; these are situations where the only regulations or statutes cited are those enforced by Customs. If the seizure is purely a Customs issue, then it will be considered a non-CAFRA matter, and more difficult standards are applied to release.

There are many entitlements and reliefs that come along with CAFRA classification, which is why it is of the utmost importance to understand what sort of seizure you are facing. Much of the protocol is differently in CAFRA cases. For example, if a person hires an attorney and it is determined their property was unjustly seized, under CAFRA they are entitled to reimbursement for all attorney’s fees by the government. The more you understand about The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, the more prepared you will be if your property is ever seized. If you would like to view the law in its entirety, please visit the following link:

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