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Forcible possession; a grasping, snatching, or putting in possession.
In criminal law, a seizure is the forcible taking of property by a government law enforcement official from a person who is suspected of violating, or is known to have violated, the law. A search warrant usually must be presented to the person before his property is seized, unless the circumstances of the seizure justify a warrantless search and seizure. For example, the police may seize a pistol in the coat pocket of a person arrested during a robbery without presenting a warrant because the search and seizure is incident to a lawful arrest. Certain federal and state laws provide for the seizure of particular property that was used in the commission of a crime or that is illegal to possess, such as explosives used in violation of federal law or illegal narcotics.
In the law of civil practice, the term refers to the act performed by an officer of the law under court order when she takes into custody the property of a person against whom a court has rendered a judgment to pay a certain amount of money to another. The property is seized so that it can be sold under the authority of the court to satisfy the judgment. Property can also be seized if a substantial likelihood exists that a defendant is concealing or removing property from the jurisdiction of the court so that in the event a judgment is rendered against her, the property cannot be used to pay the judgment. By attaching or seizing a defendant's property, the court prevents her from perpetrating a fraud on the courts.