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Federal asset seizures.

Roberto Henry Ebelt


Federal asset seizures.

The US federal system of asset seizure *has been jarring for many.  The expression has been jarring for many means está incomodando muita gente.

Some 400 federal statutes (a near doubling, by one count), since the 1990s, empower (autorizam) the government to take assets from convicted criminals (criminosos condenados) as well as (as well as means bem como) people never charged with a crime.

Federal asset seizure means the same as FEDERAL ASSET FORFEITURE

Asset forfeiture is a term used to describe the confiscation of assets, by the state, which are either
(a) the proceeds of crime or
(b) the instrumentalities of crime, and more recently, terrorism. Instrumentalities of crime are property that was used to facilitate crime, for example cars used to transport illegal narcotics. The terminology used in different jurisdictions varies. Some jurisdictions use the term "confiscation" instead of forfeiture. In recent years, there has been a growing trend for countries to introduce civil forfeiture. Such proceedings may be brought in the USA, Australia, the UK, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, various Canadian Provinces and Antigua.

Last year, forfeiture programs confiscated homes, cars, boats and cash in more than 15,000 cases. The total take topped 2.5 billion dollars, more than doubling in five years.

FORFEITURE = CONFISCATION, loss; relinquishment, giving up, surrender, sacrifice; Law sequestration.

The expansion of forfeiture powers is part of a broader growth in recent decades of the federal justice system that has seen hundreds of new criminal laws passed.

Some critics have dubbed the pattern as the over-criminalization of American life.

The forfeiture system has opponents across the political spectrum, including representatives of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union on the left and the Heritage Foundation on the right. They argue it represents a widening threat to innocent people.

Backers (apoiadores) of the system say there are adequate protections for the innocent, and describe the laws as a powerful tool (ferramenta ponderosa) for returning money to crime victims. Forfeiture law has its roots in the Colonial days, when it was used to battle pirates and smugglers. In the 1970s and 1980s, Congress began giving law-enforcement officials power to go after the assets of other criminals, such as organized-crime figures.

The more than 400 federal statutes allowing for forfeiture range (abrangem) from racketeering (racketeering = n. engaging in organized crime (such as blackmail, bootlegging, smuggling, etc.) and drug dealing to violations of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act.

Halibut is a flatfish, genus Hippoglossus, from the family of the right-eye flounders (Pleuronectidae). Other flatfish are also called halibut. The name is derived from haly (holy) and butt (flat fish), for its popularity on Catholic holy days. Halibut live in both the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans and are highly-regarded food fish.

The halibut is the largest flat fish, averaging 11–13.5 kilograms (24–30 lb), but catch as large as 333 kilograms (730 lb) are reported; the largest recently recorded was 236 kilograms (520 lb) and 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) long. They are gray-black on the top side with an off-white underbelly and have very small scales invisible to the naked eye embedded in their skin. At birth, they have an eye on each side of the head, and swim like a salmon. After six months one eye migrates to the other side, making them look more like flounder. At the same time, the stationary-eyed side darkens to match the top side, while the other side remains white. This color scheme disguises halibut from above (blending with the ocean floor) and from below (blending into the light from the sky) and is known as counter shading.

Halibut caught in Alaska
Halibut caught in Alaska.

Seizure powers were extended to about 200 of those laws in 2000 in a major congressional overhaul of the forfeiture system. Top federal officials are also pushing for greater use of civil-forfeiture proceedings, in which assets can be taken without criminal charges being filed against the owner. In a civil forfeiture, the asset itself (not the owner of the asset) is technically the defendant. In such a case, the government must show by a preponderance of evidence that the property was connected to illegal activity. In a criminal forfeiture, the government must first win a conviction against an individual, where the burden of proof is higher.

Justice Department officials say they rarely lose such cases, a fact they cite as evidence that the system is working properly.

Forfeiture attorneys counter (counter = afirmam, ao contrário, que) that the government often settles cases, returning at least part of the seized assets, if it thinks it might lose.

The original text was obtained from the newsletter of the site www.migalhas.com.br




Tags: Roberto Henry Ebelt, ensino, inglês

Roberto Henry Ebelt é professor, escritor, escreveu uma coluna semanal para o Jornal do Comércio de Porto Alegre entre 2001 e 2013, e é diretor do curso HENRY'S BUSINESS ENGLISH desde 1971.

Seu mais recente livro, O QUE VOCÊ DEVE SABER ANTES DE ESTUDAR INGLÊS, pode ser encontrado nas livrarias Disal, Cultura e SBS ou à rua Hoffmann, 728 em Porto Alegre.

E-mail: roberto@henrys.com.br
Fone (51) 3222-3144
Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henrysbusinessnglish/?pnref=lhc

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