Taking Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Taking?

Government process of obtaining private land for public purposes using eminent domain.

History and Meaning of Taking

Taking refers to the process by which the government obtains private property for public use when the owner refuses to sell it. The government can only acquire private property through the use of eminent domain, which is a constitutional power granted to the government to take over private property for public use. The government must also pay just compensation to the owner for the fair market value of the property.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from taking private property without providing the owner with just compensation. Taking has been a contentious issue throughout history as some property owners are rightfully concerned about losing their property to the government. However, the government has the power to acquire private property when it is deemed necessary for public use, such as building roads, highways, schools or public parks.

Examples of Taking

  1. The government has announced that it will take control of the land of a property owner in order to build a new highway.

  2. A municipality has said that it intends to take over a residence through eminent domain, as the locality plans to build a public park in the area.

  3. A state government intends to take over farmland to construct high-speed rail tracks.

Legal Terms Similar to Taking

  1. Eminent Domain - a constitutional power granted to the government to take over private property for public use.

  2. Just compensation - payment to an owner in the amount of the fair market value of the property taken.

  3. Condemnation - the process of the government taking private property through eminent domain.