Forfeiture, in law, the loss of property as a consequence of some act which the law forbids and attaches this penalty to, or which the party has agreed not to do under the same penalty. Forfeiture is defined by Blackstone as a punishment which the law inflicts. It is so undoubtedly in all cases of forfeiture by crime; but we apprehend that it can be called punishment in the ordinary cases of civil forfeiture only as all consequences of wrong doing may be called punishment. Forfeiture was annexed by the law of England to many offences, as treason, felony, misprision of treason, praemunire, drawing a weapon upon a judge, or striking any person in the presence of any of the king's courts of justice. Lands and hereditaments were forfeited only upon attainder or corruption of blood; but forfeiture of goods and chattels took place upon conviction. Attainder, and the consequent forfeiture, were the most powerful instruments by which the greatest tyrants among the English mon-archs endeavored to confirm and increase their power.

Our fathers held them in so much dread and detestation, that the constitution of the United States (art. iii., sec. 3) declares that no attainder of 'treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted; and now in England, by statute 3 and 4 William IV., c.

106, forfeiture for crime, where it exists at all, is only for the life of the person attainted.-Civil forfeiture may occur in three ways: 1. By operation of law, the principal instance of which at common law was the forfeiture of estates which were less than a fee, which was incurred when the holder made a conveyance of a greater estate than he held; as for example, if a tenant of land for life or years conveyed the land in fee, the grantee took nothing, but the whole estate of the grantor was forfeited to the remainderman, or reversioner. In the United States, however, a more just and rational rule prevails. With some diversity in its details, it may be generally expressed thus: A grant of more than the grantor has operates as a grant of all he has, and as to all that is more it is void. 2. When certain conditions are annexed to an estate, either in the deed or devise or otherwise, at the original creation, the penalty of forfeiture may be annexed to those conditions, and will take effect if they be broken; as if A grants to B land, on condition that neither he nor any one claiming by or through him shall put up a certain building, or any building within a certain distance of one of the boundaries, or any other thing of like kind, then if anything is done which violates the condition, the land is forfeited.

It may be remarked, however, that the law does not favor conditions of this kind; and courts would construe them, where it could properly be done, either as giving a right to the grantor to abate and remove whatever thus violates the agreement, or as an injury for which compensation may be had in damages, leaving, in both cases, the estate undisturbed. 3. One may agree to pay a certain sum in case a less sum be not paid, or some other certain tiling be not done, at a certain time. This is usually done by a bond; and the sum thus agreed to be paid is a penalty, which the courts of England and of the United States will reduce to the amount actually due. So one who becomes surety for another in a certain sum that this other shall appear at a certain time, forfeits the sum if that other does not appear. But on good cause being shown, courts have the power, and are usually willing to exercise it, to mitigate the penalty, and remit the forfeiture in whole or in part.