Supreme Court limits forfeiture in drug crimes

Supreme Court limits forfeiture in drug crimes

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday in Honeycutt v. United States [SCOTUSblog materials] that forfeiture is limited to property the defendant actually obtained as a result of the crime or “tainted property.” The court held that the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1984 [text] limits property to the definitions within the act and rejected the government’s argument that the standard should be the background principle of conspiracy liability that the conspirators be responsible for each other’s foreseeable actions within the common plan. Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the majority opinion stated:

Forfeiture pursuant to §853(a)(1) is limited to property the defendant himself actually acquired as the result of the crime. In this case, the Government has conceded that Terry Honeycutt had no ownership interest in his brother’s store and did not personally benefit from the Polar Pure sales. App. to Pet. for Cert. 60a. The District Court agreed…Because Honeycutt never obtained tainted property as a result of the crime, §853 does not require any forfeiture.

The court heard arguments for the case in March after granting certiorari [JURIST reports] in December.