Through the civil forfeiture process, a defendant may be deprived of the proceeds of criminal activity and/or of property used in the commission of a crime. Statutory authority for this significant weapon against crime is found at N.J.S.A. 2C:64-1 et seq., pursuant to which the State may pursue forfeiture of property either used in furtherance of criminal activity, used to facilitate the commission of a crime, or representing proceeds of criminal activity.
The Forfeiture Section of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office is attached to Trial Team II, the Investigative Trial Team. Forfeiture actions arise from criminal investigations conducted by the Prosecutor's Office, municipal police departments and State agencies. The Forfeiture Section is comprised of an assistant prosecutor, who serves as the director, and investigative and support staff.
The assistant prosecutor in charge of the Forfeiture Section initially screens cases to determine whether or not the filing of a forfeiture complaint is warranted on the specific facts of each case.
Where the filing of a forfeiture complaint is warranted, it is the responsibility of the Director of the Forfeiture Section to prepare the complaint following an exhaustive review of the file. Forfeiture actions are commenced by the filing of such complaints in the Superior Court. Copies of the filed complaint are served upon all parties to the action. The Director of the Forfeiture Section has the continuing responsibility to monitor all pleadings in the case and to litigate motions and trials.
Upon successful completion of forfeiture case, the Director of the Forfeiture Section determines the proper distribution of the assets or proceeds recovered. Forfeited vehicles are often sold at public auction. Forfeited money is distributed back to the seizing agency with a portion remaining with the Prosecutor's Office. Under appropriate circumstances, forfeited money is also disbursed to victims in the form of restitution.