24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Can Hobbs Act charges lead to asset forfeiture?

Can Hobbs Act Charges Lead to Asset Forfeiture?

The Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, is a federal law that prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. The act also criminalizes conspiracy to commit robbery or extortion without reference to the general federal conspiracy statute at 18 U.S.C. § 371. Although originally intended to combat racketeering in labor disputes, the Hobbs Act today is frequently used in cases involving public corruption, commercial disputes, violent criminals and street gangs, and corruption directed at labor union members. An important question is whether a Hobbs Act violation can also lead to asset forfeiture.

Overview of Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture refers to the seizure of property by law enforcement when that property is suspected to be involved in a crime. There are two main types of asset forfeiture:

  • Criminal forfeiture – Occurs after a criminal conviction and requires the higher “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof.
  • Civil forfeiture – Does not require a criminal conviction and uses the lower “preponderance of evidence” standard. The property itself is considered guilty, not the owner.

Both types allow law enforcement to seize cash, vehicles, real estate, weapons, and other assets associated with criminal activity. The assets can then be liquidated, with the proceeds going to law enforcement agencies.
Asset forfeiture linked to federal crimes is governed by federal statutes. Some of the main laws include:

  • Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970
  • Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act
  • Money Laundering Control Act of 1986
  • Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA)

These laws identify which crimes allow asset forfeiture and set the procedures for seizing and forfeiting assets.

Asset Forfeiture Under the Hobbs Act

The Hobbs Act is not specifically mentioned in the main federal asset forfeiture laws. However, there are a few ways Hobbs Act violations can still result in asset forfeiture:

Criminal Forfeiture

The Hobbs Act is a federal felony offense. Under 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(2), a defendant convicted of any felony violation of the Hobbs Act must forfeit to the government any property involved in or traceable to the crime.
This includes proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the crime. For example, if a defendant extorted money from a business, the extorted funds would be subject to forfeiture.
Criminal forfeiture under the Hobbs Act requires the government prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant was convicted of a Hobbs Act felony
  • The property was involved in or traceable to the Hobbs Act violation

Civil Judicial Forfeiture

Even without a criminal conviction, the government can pursue civil forfeiture of assets connected to a Hobbs Act crime.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C), the government can civilly forfeit any property derived from “specified unlawful activity.” The definition of specified unlawful activity includes any act indictable under the Hobbs Act 1.
To civilly forfeit property under the Hobbs Act, the government must show by a preponderance of evidence that:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • The property was involved in or traceable to a Hobbs Act violation
  • The owner cannot establish an “innocent owner” defense

The government does not have to prove the property owner committed the Hobbs Act crime or even knew about it. This makes civil forfeiture possible even when there is not enough evidence for a criminal conviction.

Administrative Forfeiture

For smaller forfeitures (usually under $500,000), the government can administratively forfeit assets related to a Hobbs Act violation 2.
This allows federal seizing agencies like the FBI to forfeit assets without going through the courts.
The property owner is notified and has the right to challenge the forfeiture in court. If no challenge is made, the agency can forfeit the property without judicial oversight.

Criticisms of Asset Forfeiture Under the Hobbs Act

Using the Hobbs Act for asset forfeiture is controversial for several reasons:

  • The Hobbs Act covers a wide range of crimes, resulting in broad forfeiture powers
  • Civil forfeiture does not require a criminal conviction
  • Seizing agencies often get to keep the forfeited assets, creating a profit motive
  • It is often expensive and difficult for property owners to challenge forfeitures

Critics argue this combination of broad authority and limited owner protections leads to abuse of asset forfeiture. There are instances of questionable seizures where the connection to a Hobbs Act crime is unclear 3.
However, supporters contend asset forfeiture is an important tool to disrupt criminal enterprises. In their view, the potential for abuse must be balanced against the ability to target resources that enable racketeering, extortion, and other Hobbs Act offenses.

Famous Hobbs Act Forfeiture Cases

Here are some notable examples of asset forfeiture related to Hobbs Act violations:

United States v. Private Sanitation Industry Association

This landmark case in the late 1980s involved forfeiture of over $10 million from five waste hauling companies in New York City. The companies engaged in collusive bid-rigging and customer allocation in violation of the Hobbs Act. The forfeited funds were used to pay restitution to victims 4.

United States v. Mongol Nation

Federal prosecutors sought forfeiture of the trademarks and other intellectual property of the Mongols motorcycle club. The government argued the marks were subject to seizure as property derived from racketeering activity including Hobbs Act extortion. However, the forfeiture attempt was overturned on appeal in 2020 5.

Timbs v. Indiana

In this 2019 Supreme Court case, Tyson Timbs challenged the civil forfeiture of his Land Rover after a conviction for drug crimes. The state sought forfeiture under a law allowing seizure of vehicles used to transport illegal drugs. Although not a Hobbs Act case, Timbs has implications for limits on excessive forfeitures under the 8th Amendment.


In summary, the Hobbs Act does allow for both criminal and civil forfeiture of assets connected to Hobbs Act felonies. Law enforcement can criminally or civilly seize property involved in Hobbs Act extortion, robbery, and racketeering. However, broad asset forfeiture authority under the Hobbs Act raises concerns about potential abuse and excessive seizures. Going forward, Congress and the courts may seek to strike a balance providing this tool for combating organized and commercial crime while still protecting property rights.


[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/981 [2] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/97-139/13 [3] https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2020/05/07/hobbs-act-robbery-criminal-forfeiture-fmla-violations/ [4] https://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=endnotes [5] https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/more-dozen-charged-violent-crime-conspiracy-includes-armed-carjacking-armed-robbery https://www.law.com/supremecourtbrief/2019/02/20/tracing-the-limits-of-asset-forfeiture-in-timbs-v-indiana/?slreturn=20230103153528

Schedule Your Consultation Now