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Title: Confiscation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Radio Voice of Revolutionary Ethiopia, Prodrazvyorstka, United States v. Thirty-seven Photographs, Index of real estate articles, Economy of Africa
Collection: Asset Forfeiture, Crime, Punishments
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Confiscation (from the Latin confiscatio "joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury") is a legal seizure by a government or other public authority. The word is also used, popularly, of spoliation under legal forms, or of any seizure of property as punishment or in enforcement of the law.


  • Scope and history 1
  • Modern trends 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
  • References 6

Scope and history

As a punishment, it differs from a physical punishments or even a concurring fine.

Often, police will auction items confiscated via police auction or asset forfeiture and keep the proceeds. Theoretically, it is possible for owners to buy back confiscated items.

In airports, potentially dangerous items (such as hazardous chemicals, weapons, and sharp objects) are usually confiscated at inspections. Other items, such as certain food, may also be confiscated, depending on importation laws. Depending on the nature of the items, some may be returned at the end of the flight, while most are discarded or auctioned off. The musical comedian Anna Russell had an Irish harp confiscated by the U.S. Customs Service.[1]

Originally, in Roman law, it was the seizure and transfer of private property to the fiscus by the emperor; hence the appropriation, under legal authority, of private property to the state.

In modern, e.g. English law, the term embraces forfeiture in the case of goods, and escheat in the case of lands, for crime or in default of heirs (see also Eminent Domain). Goods may also be confiscated by the state for breaches of statutes relating to customs, excise or explosives. In the United Kingdom a confiscation order is a court order made under part 2 (England & Wales), part 3 (Scotland) or part 4 (Northern Ireland) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 requiring a convicted defendant to pay a specified sum of money to the state by a specified date.

In the United States among the "war measures" during the American Civil War, acts were passed in 1861 and 1862 confiscating, respectively, property used for "insurrectionary purposes" and the property generally of those engaged in rebellion.

For legal confiscation in the United States, see search and seizure.

Modern trends

There was from the late 1980s onwards a resurgence of interest in confiscation as crime prevention tool, which went hand in hand with the interest in the criminalization of money laundering. A number of international instruments, starting with the 1988 Vienna Convention, have strongly suggested the enactment of legal provisions enabling confiscation of proceeds of crime. The 40 recommendations of the FATF have also stated its importance as a crime prevention tool.

A further trend has been the reversal of the burden of proof for the purpose of facilitating confiscation.

See also



External links

  • UK Education and Inspection Act 2006 - Section 94, Confiscation from pupils


  1. ^ "Anna Here, But Without Her Harp". 
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