Forfeiture Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Forfeiture, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Forfeiture?

(n) Forfeiture is the process by which a person lose the right on his property, article or claim due to his failure to fulfill the legal obligation. Eg. Forfeiture of earnest Money Deposit, when the bidder fails to execute the agreement or accept the awarded bid.

History and Meaning of Forfeiture

Forfeiture is a legal process through which an individual is said to lose the rights to a property, article, or claim. It is primarily the result of the failure to fulfill legal obligations attached to a particular item or asset. The term has been in legal use for several centuries and has evolved over time to encompass different types of legal forfeiture.

In ancient times, forfeiture was initially conceived as a punishment for a crime. This entailed the confiscation of property, including land, goods, and chattels, from the convicted party. In modern times, forfeiture has expanded to involve the confiscation of an individual's assets when they fail to meet financial obligations. This includes situations where the individual fails to pay taxes or fulfill contractual obligations, such as in cases of real estate purchases.

Examples of Forfeiture

  1. A driver can have their vehicle forfeited if it is used to transport illegal drugs.
  2. A defendant can forfeit their bail money if they fail to show up for their court hearing.
  3. A person could forfeit their home to the bank in case they can't pay off their mortgage.
  4. In a civil forfeiture case, a person can lose their assets if law enforcement believes they were obtained with illegal profits.
  5. A contractor who fails to complete a project on time may forfeit a percentage of their payment as a penalty.

Legal Terms Similar to Forfeiture

  1. Seizure: This is the process of taking assets or property under specific laws or regulations.
  2. Confiscation: Confiscation is the process of taking something legally as a penalty for wrongdoing or a breach of laws.
  3. Lien: This is a legal right that an individual or a creditor maintains over someone else's property till the payment of their debts.