Legal Definition and Related Resources of Forfeiture

Meaning of Forfeiture

Denotes the loss of some right , property , benefit or privilege by a person as a result of having Committed a crime or breached some legal obligation imposed on him. treason , murder and certain other kinds of felony were visited by the penalty of forfeiture. Usually the convicted person’s properties were taken by the state for its own purpose. At times, however, the felon ‘s property was forfeited in favor of the part) injured by the crime or his family as a recompense. See Washington county v Baltimore & O. R. Co., 3 How. (U.S.)534. 11 L.Ed. 714. In tenure law, the term denoted the loss of land by a tenant to his lord, as the consequence of some breach of feudal duty. In the law of contract , it denotes a penalty, usually monetary, for breach of contract, although, in contract of lease , the word forfeiture may denote the loss of the right to the unexpired portion of the term of the leasehold . The term can also denote the incurring of the liability to pay a fine as the result of violating the provision of some statute .

Forfeiture Alternative Definition

A punishment annexed by law to some illegal act or negligence in the owner of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, whereby he loses all his interest therein, and they become vested in the party injured as a recompense for the wrong which he alone, or the public together with himself, hath sustained. 2 Bl. Comm. 267. A sum of money to be paid by way of penalty for a crime. 21 Ala. (N. S.) 672; 10 Grat. (Va.) 700. See “Confiscate.” Forfeiture by alienation. By the English law, estates less than a fee may be forfeited to the party entitled to the residuary interest by a breach of duty in the owner of the particular estate. 2 Bl. Comm. 274. In this country, such forfeitures are almost unknown, and the more just principle prevails that the conveyance by the tenant operates only on the interest which he possessed, and does not affect the remainderman or reversioner. 4 Kent, Comm. 81, 82, 424; 3 Dall. (Pa.) 486; 5 Ohio, 30; 1 Pick. (Mass.) 318; 1 Rice (S. C.) 459; 2 Rawle (Pa.) 168; 1 Wash. (Va.) 381; 11 Conn. 553; 22 N. H. 500; 21 Me. 372. See, also, Stearns, Real Actions, 11; 4 Kent, Comm. 84; 2 Sharswood, Bl. Comm. 121, note; Williams, Real Prop. 25; 5 Dane, Abr. 6-8; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 92, 197. Forfeiture for crimes. Under the constitution and laws of the United States (Const, art. 3, § 3; Act April 30, 1790, § 24 [1 Story, U. S. Laws, 88]), forfeiture for crimes is nearly abolished, and when it occurs, the state recovers only the title which the owner had. 4 Mason (U. S.) 174. See, also, Dalr. Feud. Prop. c. 4, pp. 145-154; Fost. Crim. Law, 95; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 92. Forfeiture by nonperformance of conditions. An estate may be forfeited by a breach or nonperformance of a condition annexed to the estate, either expressed in the deed at its original creation, or implied by law, from a principle of natural reason. 2 Bl. Comm. 281; Litt. § 361; 1 Prest. Est. 478; White & T. Lead. Cas. 794, 795; 5 Pick. (Mass.) 528; 2 N. H. 120; 5 Serg. & R. (Pa.) 375; 32 Me. 394; 18 Conn. 535; 12 Serg. & R. (Pa.) 190. Such forfeiture may be waived by acts of the person entitled to take advantage of the breach. 1 Conn. 79; 1 Johns. Cas. (N. Y.) 126; Walk. Am. Law, 299; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 454 Forfeiture by waste. Waste is a cause of forfeiture. 2 Bl. Comm. 283; 2 Inst. 299; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 118. See, generally, 2 Bl. Comm. c. 18; 4 Bl. Comm. 382; Bouv. Inst. Index; 2 Kent, Comm. 318; 4 Kent, Comm. 422; 10 Viner, Abr. 371, 394; 13 Viner, Abr. 436; Bac. Abr. “Forfeiture;” Comyn, Dig.; Dane, Abr.; 1 Brown, Civ. Law, 252; Considerations on the Law of Forfeiture for High Treason (London Ed. 1746; 1 Washb. Real Prop. 91, 92, 118, 197.

Synonyms of Forfeiture

(Act of forfeiting), noun

  • confiscation
  • deprivation
  • deprivation of a right
  • destruction of a right
  • disenfranchisement
  • disentitlement
  • dispossession
  • divestiture of property
  • divestment
  • eviction
  • exaction
  • expropriation
  • forcible seizure
  • foreclosure
  • involuntary loss of right
  • loss of right
  • punishment
  • seizure
  • seizure of a privilege Associated Concepts: action for forfeiture
  • forfeiture clause
  • forfeiture of bail
  • forfeiture of bond
  • forfeiture of deposit
  • forfeiture of office
  • forfeiture provision
  • redemption of property forfeitured
  • relief from forfeiture
  • right of forfeiture
  • tax forfeiture foreign phrases: Nullus jus alienum forisfacere potest
  • No man can forfeit the right of another

(Thingforfeited), noun

  • amercement
  • cost
  • fine
  • loss
  • loss consequent to a default
  • mulct
  • pecuniary penalty
  • penal retribution
  • penalization
  • penalty
  • punishment

Related Entries of Forfeiture in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Forfeiture in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Forfeiture in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Forfeiture in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Forfeiture in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Caducarry, Condition, Dissolution, Felony, , Fly For It, Impeachment Of Waste, Limitation Of Actions, Misdemeanor, Presumption Of Innocence, Sentence, Suicide.

Translate Forfeiture from English to Spanish

Translation of Forfeiture, with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Pérdida and other legal terms is available here.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Forfeiture in the Dictionary Forfeiture in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Forfeiture
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Related topics Forfeiture in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Forfeiture is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


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English Spanish Translation of Forfeiture


Find other English to Spanish translations from the Pocket Spanish English Legal Dictionary (print and online), the English to Spanish to English dictionaries (like Forfeiture) and the Word reference legal translator.

Meaning of Forfeiture in Spanish

Description/ translation of forfeiture into Spanish: pérdida (forfeiture of bail: pérdida de la fianza); preclusión (es decir, caducidad de un derecho por el transcurso del plazo)[1]

Note: for more information on related terms and on the area of law where forfeiture belongs (criminal procedure law), in Spanish, see here.

Notes and References

  1. Translation of Forfeiture published by Antonio Peñaranda


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Burden of Proof; Civil and Criminal Divide; Counsel: Right to Counsel; Criminal Justice Process; Drinking and Driving; Drugs and Crime: Legal Aspects; Federal Criminal Jurisdiction; Federal Criminal Law Enforcement; Police: Criminal Investigations; Prosecution: Prosecutorial Discretion; Sentencing: Procedural Protection.

    Drugs and Narcotics.

  • Related Case Law

    Alexander v. United States (1993).

    Austin v. United States (1993).

    Bennis v. Michigan (1996).

    Calero-Toledo v. Pearson Yacht Co. (1974).

    United States v. Bajakajian (1998).

    United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property (1993).

    United States v. Ursery (1996).

    Further Reading

    Blumenson, Eric, and Nilsen, Eva. “Policing for Profit: The Drug War’s Hidden Economic Agenda.” The University of Chicago Law Review 65 (1998): 1.

    Cheh, Mary M. “Can Something This Easy, Quick, and Profitable Also Be Fair? Runaway Civil Forfeiture Stumbles on the Constitution.” New York Law School Review 39 (1994): 1-2.

    Kessler, Steven L. Civil and Criminal Forfeiture: Federal and State Practice. Updated periodically. Deerfield, Ill.: West Group, 1993.

    Smith, David B. Prosecution and Defense of Forfeiture Cases. New York: Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., 1981. Updated periodically.

    U.S. Department of Justice. Annual Report of the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program: Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.

    Forfeiture in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of forfeiture.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police Work
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    Forfeiture of security for attendance in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of forfeiture of security for attendance.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police Work
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    English Legal System: Forfeiture

    In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of

    Loss of property or a right as a consequence of an offence or of the breach of an undertaking. There are three main situations in which the courts may order forfeiture of property. (1) Property that is illegally possessed is subject to forfeiture. (2) Any property relating to an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 (See controlled drugs) may be forfeited and either destroyed or dealt with as the court sees fit (this includes the proceeds of the sale of drugs). (3) Property may be forfeited if it is legally possessed but used (or intended to be used) to commit a crime (e.g. a getaway car) when the owner has previously been convicted of an offence. Property confiscated under this heading is held by the police for six months and then disposed of.

    Most *leases provide for the landlord to terminate the lease when the tenant is in breach of his covenants. The landlord must follow a particular procedure before effecting forfeiture. From 24 January 1996 a freeholder cannot forfeit a lease for nonpayment of a service charge unless the lessee accepts the charge or the *leasehold valuation tribunal agrees. In the case of forfeiture for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must make a formal demand for the rent unless the lease exempts him from the need to do this. When other covenants have been breached, the landlord must serve a statutory notice on the tenant specifying the breach, requiring him to put it right where this is possible, and requiring compensation in money if appropriate. If the tenant fails to comply with the notice the landlord may proceed with forfeiture. This may be done through court proceedings for possession or, more rarely, by *re-entry. A landlord loses his right of forfeiture if he treats the lease as continuing when he is entitled to forfeit it. This is known as waiver of forfeiture.

    See also confiscation order; racial hatred; relief from forfeiture.

    Concept of Forfeiture in the context of Real Property

    A short definition of Forfeiture: The taking of an individual’s property by a government, because the individual has committed a crime.

    Concept of Forfeiture in the context of Real Property

    A short definition of Forfeiture: The taking of an individual’s property by a government, because the individual has committed a crime.



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