SW Legal studies in Business

Property Used in Commission of a Crime May Be Forfeited to the Government

Judge upheld the request of the government that a couple, convicted of holding illegal aliens, who were subject to brutal mistreatment, in their home for years, be required to forfeit their home to the government, besides the prison terms given to the couple.

Topic Criminal Law
Key Words

Excessive Fines; Property Forfeiture

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Varsha and Mahender Sabhnani were convicted on 12 counts of forced labor, harboring aliens, peonage, and related acts. Varsha was sentenced to 11 years in prison; Mahender to 40 months. The government also moved for the court to order the forfeiture of defendants’ home, claiming it was related to the holding and mistreatment of people brought into the country illegally to be used as domestic servants. The Sabhnanis opposed the motion, claiming the forfeiture violated the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.


Motion granted. The forfeiture is reasonable given that the home was used in the commission of crimes. The Sabhnanis were found to have starved, tortured, and beat the illegal aliens they kept under their control in their home. The loss of the property, which was used to facilitate the crime, is justified and does not violate the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.


U.S. v. Sabhnani, ---F.Supp.2d--- (2008 WL 2791870, E.D., N.Y., 2008)

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