Manitoba's Civil Forfeiture Regime: Windfalls and Justice Policy
Since the beginning of the War on Drugs, civil forfeiture laws have spread across not only the United States, but many countries around the world. In recent years, increasing attention has turned to the spread and operation of civil forfeiture in Canada. Starting with Ontario in 2001, civil forfeiture legislation has been passed in eight provinces to date, including Manitoba with the passing of the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act in 2004.
Under civil forfeiture law, private property that is believed to be the proceeds of crime or to have been used (or likely to be used) in the commission of a criminal offence, can be forfeited to the state without the owner being convicted or even charged with a crime. Moreover, the state is only required prove a connection between the property and the alleged offence on a balance of probabilities, rather than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. Criticisms have since followed that the laws have led to the erosion of property rights and undermined due process.