It is well understood that the criminal forfeiture of illicit proceeds or facilitating property from a fugitive (and an individual who dies post-conviction but pre-sentencing) is a virtually untenable concept. Civil forfeiture, to the contrary, is a means by which the remedial effects of government seizure can occur in such an instance, primarily due to the application of the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine (28 U.S.C. § 2466).
The Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine prohibits persons convicted or accused of a crime who are hiding from law enforcement in the U.S. (or are purposefully taking refuge in another country) to avail themselves to the resources of the court. The rationale behind this law is not to allow absconders to seek relief from a judicial system whose authority they have chosen to evade. Because of this, a trial or appellate court has the authority to limit a fugitive's access to civil courts in the U.S.
As such, the doctrine also prohibits a fugitive or escapee from challenging or contesting a related civil forfeiture case. See United States v. $671,160.00 in U.S. Currency, 730 F.3d 1051 (9th Cir. 2013). This prohibition not only provides a proper mechanism for the disposition and distribution of seized assets, but it also has the collateral effect of discouraging flights from justice and returning property to victims in instances where it may not normally occur.
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