Brief Fact Summary. A husband used a car he jointly owned with his wife to have sex with a prostitute. The government seeks forfeiture of the car.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An owner’s interest in property may be forfeited by reason of the use to which to property is put even though the owner did not know how her property was being used.
Issue. If an owner of property does not know how her property is being used by another, can the owner’s interest still be forfeited?
A long line of cases holds that an owner’s interest in property may be forfeited by reason of the use to which to property is put even though the owner did not know how her property was being used.
Forfeiture of property prevents further illicit use in two ways. It prevents further illicit use of the property and renders the illegal behavior unprofitable by imposing an economic penalty.
The government is not required to compensate an owner for property, which it has already lawfully acquired under the exercise of governmental authority other than the power of eminent domain. Thus, there was no taking that required compensation.
Petitioner’s automobile facilitated and was used in criminal activity. The state sought to deter illegal activity, and they rightly do so by subjecting the car to forfeiture.
The real syllabus of the passage quoted is, that a process of law, which is not otherwise forbidden, must be taken to be due process of law, if it can show the sanction of settled usage both in England and in this country; but it by no means follows that nothing else can be due process of law.View Full Point of Law