Confiscation (from the Latin confiscare "to consign to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury") is a legal form of 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.[1]


As a punishment, it differs from a fine in that it is not primarily meant to match the crime but rather reattributes the criminal's ill-gotten spoils (often as a complement to the actual punishment for the crime itself; still common with various kinds of contraband, such as protected living organisms) to the community or even aims to rob them of their socio-economic status, in the extreme case reducing them to utter poverty, or if he or she is condemned to death even denies them inheritance to the legal heirs.

Meanwhile, limited confiscation is often in function of the crime, the rationale being that the criminal must be denied the fruits of their fault, while the crime itself is rather punished in some other, independent way, such as 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.[2]


Originally, in Roman law, confiscation was the seizure and transfer of private property to the fiscus (treasury) by the emperor; hence the appropriation, under legal authority, of private property to the state.[1]

In modern English law, confiscation 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).[1] Goods may also be confiscated by the state for breaches of statutes relating to customs, excise or explosives.[1] 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.

United States

During the American Revolution, customs racketeering became a serious problem. By harshly enforcing customs laws, particularly the more obscure regulations, corrupt customs officials could seize property almost with impunity.[3] This caused significant conflict between the United States and Great Britain.[4]

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.[1]

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. To the surprise of many, it is actually quite legal for law enforcement agencies to take property from people who haven't been convicted of a crime yet as civil asset forfeiture, a practice which brings in millions of dollars of revenue each year, disproportionately affecting people without means or access to a lawyer. [5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Confiscation" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 907.
  2. ^ "Anna Here, But Without Her Harp".
  3. ^ Alexander, John K. (2004-01-13). Samuel Adams: America's Revolutionary Politician. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 9781461642787.
  4. ^ Leamon, James S. (March 1995). Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine. Univ of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 0870239597.
  5. ^ Laura Sullivan (November 10, 2014). "Police Can Seize And Sell Assets Even When The Owner Broke No Law". NPR.

External links

Asset forfeiture

Asset forfeiture or asset seizure is a form of confiscation of assets by the state. It typically applies to the alleged proceeds or instruments of crime. This applies, but is not limited, to terrorist activities, drug related crimes, and other criminal and even civil offenses. Some jurisdictions specifically use the term "confiscation" instead of forfeiture. The alleged purpose of asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal activity by confiscating assets that potentially could have been beneficial to the individual or organization.

Castletown Geoghegan

Castletown Geoghegan (Irish: Baile Chaisleáin Mag Eochagán) is a town in County Westmeath, Ireland, and lies south west of Lough Ennell near the county town of Mullingar. Castletown was the seat of the Geoghegan family of the medieval Barony of Moycashel, County Westmeath. The family were descendants of the Southern Ui Neill. They were major landholders in south Westmeath maintained a peaceful co existence with the Tudor reconquest through surrender and regrant under with their leader accepting the Captaincy from Elizabeth I. As the reign of the Stuarts led to the Civil War and the appalling events of 1641 to the Cromwellian invasion, the family suffered great losses following the Down Survey and ensuing Plantations that followed on. The later War of the Three Kingdoms finalized the confiscation. They lost a considerable portion their estates to Gustavus Lambart (later created Earl of Cavan) through confiscation even prior to the final publication of the Down Survey. The abundant productivity of the rich grazing being self-evident, the Lambarts of Kilcoursey contrived to procure much of it very early in the process.

The Restoration resettlement Acts of the late 17th century indeed favored the retention of land by some of the recently esconsced Cromwellian Adventurers and Undertakers and some to their traditional owners. Consequently, some relatively small holdings of the rich grazing lakeland was restored to the Geoghegans. It did not help the case for a greater degree restoration of Geoghegan land that the chieftain Bryan and many of his allies of the "Irish of Meath" coalition refused to sign the mandatory pledges and undertakings of fealty to the new regime of William and Mary, Parliament and the established church. Political acumen, however, was not their strong suit. The Geoghegan leaders, along with many more native landholders were mostly headed for exile and Connaught (where some of them reverted to their patronymic surname of O'Neill).

Confiscation Act of 1861

The Confiscation Act of 1861 was an act of Congress during the early months of the American Civil War permitting court proceedings for confiscation of any of property being used to support the Confederate independence effort, including slaves.

The bill passed the House of Representatives 60-48 and in the Senate 24-11. Abraham Lincoln was reluctant to sign the act; he felt that, in light of the Confederacy's recent battlefield victories, the bill would have no practical effect and might be seen as a desperate move. He was also worried that it could be struck down as unconstitutional, which would set a precedent that might derail future attempts at emancipation. Only personal lobbying by several powerful Senators persuaded Lincoln to sign the legislation, which he did on August 6, 1861. Due to the fact that the bill was based on military emancipation, no judicial proceedings were required and therefore Lincoln gave Attorney General Edward Bates no instructions on enforcing the bill. Within a year of its passage, tens of thousands of slaves had been freed by the First Confiscation Act.With respect to slaves, the act authorized court proceedings to strip their owners of any claim to them but did not clarify whether the slaves were free. As a result of this ambiguity, these slaves came under Union lines as property in the care of the U.S. government. In response to this situation, General David Hunter, the Union Army military commander of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, issued General Order No. 11 on May 9, 1862 freeing all slaves in areas under his command. Upon hearing of Hunter's action one week later, Lincoln immediately countermanded the order, thus returning the slaves to their former status as property in the care of the federal government.Before the act was passed, Benjamin Franklin Butler had been the first Union general to declare slaves as contraband. Some other Northern commanders followed this precedent, while officers from the border states were more likely to return escaped slaves to their masters. The Confiscation Act was an attempt to set a consistent policy throughout the army.

Confiscation Act of 1862

The Confiscation Act of 1862, or Second Confiscation Act, was a law passed by the United States Congress during the American Civil War. Section 13 of the act formed the legal basis for President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

Confiscation Acts

The Confiscation Acts were laws passed by the United States Congress during the Civil War with the intention of freeing the slaves still held by the Confederate forces in the South.

The Confiscation Act of 1861 authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property by Union forces ("property" included slaves). This meant that all slaves that fought or worked for the Confederate military were confiscated whenever court proceedings "condemned" them as property used to support the rebellion. The bill passed in the United States House of Representatives 60-48 and in the Senate 24-11. The act was signed into law by President Lincoln on August 6, 1861.The Confiscation Act of 1862 was passed on July 17, 1862. It stated that any Confederate official, military or civilian, who did not surrender within 60 days of the act's passage would have their slaves freed in criminal proceedings. However, this act was only applicable to Confederate areas that had already been occupied by the Union Army.

Though U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was concerned about the practical legality of these acts, and believed that they might push the border states towards siding with the Confederacy, he nonetheless signed them to make them law. The growing movement towards emancipation was aided by these acts, which eventually led to the Preliminary and Final Emancipation Proclamations of September, 1862 and January, 1863.

Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997

The Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the Act was to empower police officers to confiscate alcohol from the possession of any minors under the age of 18. Previously only the purchase of alcohol was illegal by minors, and officers could take no action against a minor in possession of alcohol unless they were committing another offence. The Act was introduced to close this loophole and allow officers to seize alcohol in a minor's possession and create an offence for any person who fails to comply with a request to confiscate. The Act can also be applied to a person over 18 if the officer believes that the person intends to supply a minor with alcohol in their possession.

The Act only applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Confiscation of Armenian properties in Turkey

The confiscation of Armenian properties by the Ottoman and Turkish governments involved seizure of the assets, properties and land of the country's Armenian community. Starting with the Hamidian massacres in the mid-1890s and peaking during the Armenian Genocide, the confiscation of the Armenian property lasted continuously until the Istanbul pogrom of 1955 and with renewed efforts in 1974. Much of the confiscations during the Armenian Genocide were made after the Armenians were deported into the Syrian Desert with the government declaring their goods and assets left behind as "abandoned". Virtually all properties owned by Armenians living in their ancestral homeland in Western Armenia were confiscated and later distributed among the local Muslim population. Renewed efforts were introduced in 1974 where the property acquired by the Armenian community after the property declaration of 1936 was confiscated.

Historians argue that the mass confiscation of Armenian properties was an important factor in forming the economic basis of the Turkish Republic while endowing Turkey's economy with capital. The appropriation led to the formation of a new Turkish bourgeoisie and an exclusive middle class.

Dacke War

The Dacke War (Swedish: Dackefejden) was a peasant uprising led by Nils Dacke in Småland, Sweden, in 1542 against the rule of Gustav Vasa. Dacke and his followers were dissatisfied with the heavy tax burden, the introduction of Lutheranism and the confiscation of Church property (the confiscation and taxes were introduced to pay for the Swedish War of Liberation that had brought Gustav Vasa to power). In 1543 the uprising was defeated, and Nils Dacke was killed.

Ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal

The ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal (Spanish: desamortización eclesiástica de Mendizábal), more often referred to simply as la Desamortización in Spanish, were a set of decrees that resulted in the expropriation and privatisation of monastic properties in Spain from 1835 to 1837.

The legislation was promulgated by Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, who was briefly prime minister under Queen Isabel II of Spain. The aims of the legislation were varied. Some of its impulses were fostered by the anticlerical liberal factions engaged in a civil war with Carlist and other reactionary forces. The government wished to use the land to encourage the enterprises of small-land owning middle class, since much of the land was thought of as underused by monastic orders. The government, which refused to compensate the church for the properties, saw this as a source of income. Finally, wealthy noble and other families took advantage of the legislation to increase their holdings.

Ultimately, the desamortización led to the vacating of most of the ancient monasteries in Spain, which had been occupied by the various convent orders for centuries. Some of the expropriations were reversed in subsequent decades, as happened at Santo Domingo de Silos, but these re-establishments were relatively few. Some of the secularised monasteries are in a reasonably good state of preservation, for example the Valldemossa Charterhouse; others are ruined, such as San Pedro de Arlanza.

Executive Order 6102

Executive Order 6102 is a United States presidential executive order signed on April 5, 1933, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt "forbidding the Hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States". The order was made under the authority of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, as amended by the Emergency Banking Act the previous month.

The limitation on gold ownership in the U.S. was repealed after President Gerald Ford signed a bill legalizing private ownership of gold coins, bars and certificates by an act of Congress codified in Pub.L. 93–373 which went into effect December 31, 1974.

Interest rate

An interest rate is the amount of interest due per period, as a proportion of the amount lent, deposited or borrowed (called the principal sum). The total interest on an amount lent or borrowed depends on the principal sum, the interest rate, the compounding frequency, and the length of time over which it is lent, deposited or borrowed.

It is defined as the proportion of an amount loaned which a lender charges as interest to the borrower, normally expressed as an annual percentage. It is the rate a bank or other lender charges to borrow its money, or the rate a bank pays its savers for keeping money in an account.Annual interest rate is the rate over a period of one year. Other interest rates apply over different periods, such as a month or a day, but they are usually annualised.

International asset recovery

International asset recovery is any effort by governments to repatriate the proceeds of corruption hidden in foreign jurisdictions. Such assets may include monies in bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, arts and artifacts, and precious metals. As defined under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, asset recovery refers to recovering the proceeds of corruption, rather than broader terms such as asset confiscation or asset forfeiture which refer to recovering the proceeds or instrumentalities of crime in general.

Often used to emphasize the "multi-jurisdictional" or cross-border aspects of a corruption investigation, international asset recovery includes numerous processes such as the tracing, freezing, confiscation, and repatriation of proceeds stored in foreign jurisdictions, thus "making it one of the most complex projects in the field of law". Even considering the difficulties present, Africa specialist Daniel Scher counters that international asset recovery's "potential rewards in developing countries make it a highly attractive undertaking".Despite domestic legislation in some countries allowing for the confiscation and forfeiture of proceeds of corruption, it is improvements in finance, transportation, and communications technologies in the 20th century that have made it easier for corrupt leaders and other "politically exposed persons" to conceal massive amounts of stolen wealth in offshore financial centers.

By taking advantage of differences in legal systems, the high costs in coordinating investigations, lack of international cooperation, and bank secrecy in some recipient countries, corrupt officials have been able to preserve much of their loot overseas.

Juan Álvarez Mendizábal

Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, born Juan Álvarez Méndez (25 February 1790 – 3 November 1853), was a Spanish economist and politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain from 25 September 1835 to 15 May 1836.

List of missing landmarks in Spain

This list of missing landmarks in Spain includes remarkable buildings, castles, royal palaces, medieval towers, city gates and other noteworthy structures that no longer exist in Spain, or have been partially destroyed. It does not include walls of cities. City gates are included.

There are hundreds of ruins of destroyed landmarks all over Spain, although there are many famous structures standing.

Many of these destroyed monuments could be important examples of cultures passed, of that cities today.

The follow is an incomplete list.

Middlesbrough Priory

Middlesbrough Priory was a priory in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1119 by Robert de Brus as a Benedictine house.On 1 January 1539, the priory was leased free-of-charge to four men. It has been suggested that this was to shield it from confiscation during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.No trace remains of the priory.

New Zealand land confiscations

The New Zealand land confiscations took place during the 1860s to punish the Kingitanga movement for attempting to set up an alternative, Māori, form of government that forbade the selling of land to European settlers. The confiscation law targeted Kingitanga Māori against whom the government had waged war to restore the rule of British law. More than 1,200,000 hectares (3,000,000 acres) or 4.4 percent of land were confiscated, mainly in Waikato, Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty, but also in South Auckland, Hauraki, Te Urewera, Hawke's Bay and the East Coast.Legislation for the confiscations was contained in the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863, which provided for the seizing of land from Māori tribes who had been in rebellion against the Government after 1 January 1863. Its stated purpose was to achieve the "permanent protection and security" of the country's inhabitants and establish law, order and peace by using areas within the confiscated land to establish settlements for colonisation, populated initially by military settlers enlisted from among gold miners at Otago and the Colony of Victoria (Australia). Land not used by for military settlers would be surveyed and laid out as towns and rural allotments and then sold, with the money raised to be used to repay the expenses of fighting Māori. According to academic Dr Ranginui Walker, this provided the ultimate irony for Māori who were fighting to defend their own land from European encroachment: "They were to pay for the settlement and development of their lands by its expropriation in a war for the extension of the Crown's sovereignty into their territory."Although the legislation was ostensibly aimed at Māori tribes engaged in armed conflict with the government, the confiscations showed little distinction between "loyal" and "rebel" Māori tribes, and effectively robbed most Māori in the affected areas of their land and livelihood. The parliamentary debate of the legislation suggests that although the confiscation policy was purportedly designed to restore and preserve peace, some government ministers at the time saw its main purpose to be the acceleration and financing of colonisation. Much of the land that was never occupied by settlers was later sold by the Crown. Māori anger and frustration over the land confiscations led to the rise of the messianic Hauhau movement of the Pai Mārire religion from 1864 and the outbreak of the Second Taranaki War and Titokowaru's War throughout Taranaki between 1863 and 1869. Some land was later returned to Māori, although not always to its original owners. Some "returned" areas were then purchased by the Crown.Several claims have been lodged with both the Waitangi Tribunal and the New Zealand Government since the 1990s seeking compensation for confiscations enacted under the Land Settlement Act. The tribunal, in its reports on its investigations, has concluded that although the land confiscation legislation was legal, every confiscation by the government breached the law, by both failing to provide sufficient evidence there was rebellion within the designated areas and also including vast areas of land, such as uninhabitable mountain areas, which there was no prospect of settling. Submissions by the Crown in the 1999 Ngāti Awa investigation and a 1995 settlement with Waikato-Tainui included an acknowledgement that confiscations from that tribe were unjust and a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. Ten deeds of settlement were signed by the Crown and iwi in 2012, concluding with a $6.7 million redress package to a Waikato River iwi for "breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi that left the tribe virtually landless".

Plantations of Ireland

Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from the island of Great Britain. There had already been smaller-scale immigration to Ireland as far back as the 12th century, which had resulted in a distinct ethnicity in Ireland known as the Old English, or Hiberno-Normans. Unofficial plantations carried out privately by landlords also took place, such as those in County Antrim and County Down.

The 16th-century plantations were established through large areas of the country by the confiscation of lands occupied by Gaelic clans and Hiberno-Norman dynasties, but principally in the provinces of Munster and Leinster. The Crown granted these lands to colonists ("planters") from England. This process began during the reign of Henry VIII and continued under Mary I and Elizabeth I. It was accelerated under James I, when the Plantation of Ulster took place on land escheated from those Gaelic chiefs who broke the terms of surrender and regrant, Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell; in their time, land was also granted to Scottish planters.

The early plantations in the 16th century tended to be based on small "exemplary" colonies. The later plantations were based on mass confiscations of land from Irish landowners and the subsequent importation of numerous settlers and labourers from England and Wales, and later from Scotland.

The final government-planned plantations were established under the English Commonwealth and Cromwell's Protectorate during the 1650s, when thousands of Parliamentarian soldiers were settled in Ireland. Apart from the plantations, significant immigration into Ireland continued well into the 18th century, from both Great Britain and continental Europe.

The plantations changed the demography of Ireland by creating large communities with a British and Protestant identity. The ruling classes of these communities replaced the older Catholic ruling class, which had shared with the general population a common Irish identity and set of political attitudes. The new ruling class represented both English and Scottish interests in Ireland. The physical and economic nature of Irish society was also changed, as new concepts of ownership, trade, and credit were introduced. These changes led to the creation of a Protestant Ascendancy, which during the 17th century secured the authority of Crown government in Ireland from Dublin.

Religion in Brunei

Among religions in Brunei, Sunni Islam is predominant. 67% of the population is Islamic. However, other religions also have a considerable foothold in Brunei. 13% of the population is Buddhist and another 10% is Christian. The remaining 10% subscribe to various religions, including indigenous religions.Islam is the state religion of Brunei, but freedom of religion is guaranteed. The right to practice privately is given to a plethora of religions. Furthermore, some non-Islamic holidays, such as Christmas, are recognized. However, these rights are limited: religious education is controlled, even in private schools, and any non-Islamic religious materials being distributed are subject to confiscation.The state madh'hab of Islam is the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence of Sunni Islam. Most of Brunei's Muslim population subscribe to the Shafi'i school as well, and Shafi'i is a major source of law for the country. However, with the Sultan's permission, lawmakers may also consult the other three Sunni schools of fiqh.

Spanish confiscation

The Spanish confiscation was the Spanish government's seizure and sale of property, including from the Catholic Church, from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. It was a long historical, economic, and social process beginning with the so-called "Confiscation of Godoy" in 1798—although there was an earlier precedent during the reign of Charles III of Spain—and ending on 16 December 1924.

Confiscation consisted of the forced expropriation of land and property from the "mortmains" (i.e., the Catholic Church and religious orders, which had accumulated it from grants, wills, and intestates) and from municipalities. The government then sold the property on the market or through public auctions. A similar phenomenon occurred in other countries, such as Mexico.The principal goal in Spain was to obtain money to pay off the public debt securities, known as vales reales, that the state issued to finance itself. The government also hoped to increase national wealth, to create a bourgeoisie and a middle class of farmers who owned the lands they cultivated, and to foster capitalist conditions (e.g., privatization and a strong financial system) so that the state could collect more taxes. Confiscation was one of the political weapons with which Spanish liberals modified the system of ownership of the Ancien Régime during the first half of the 19th century.

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