Through the civil forfeiture process the State may seize property used in the commission of a crime or property obtained with the proceeds of criminal activity. Statutory authority for the State’s ability to seize theses assets is found at N.J.S.A. 2C:64-1 et seq. Forfeiture actions arise from criminal investigations conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, municipal police departments and State agencies.
The Forfeiture Section of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office works in conjunction with the various investigative units with the office. The Forfeiture Section is comprised of an assistant prosecutor, who serves as the director, investigative agents 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, a complaint is prepared and filed in the civil division of the Superior Court. The complaint is served on each party or individual who may have an ownership interest in the property sought to be forfeited. The Forfeiture Section has the continuing responsibility to monitor all pleadings in the case and to litigate motions and trials.
Upon successful completion of a forfeiture case, the Director of the Forfeiture Section determines the proper distribution of any assets forfeited. Forfeited vehicles and tangible property are often sold at public auction. Forfeited proceeds are typically distributed back to the seizing agency with a portion remaining with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. In cases with identifiable victims, forfeited funds may be disbursed to those victims as restitution.