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United States v. Bajakajian

United States Supreme Court
524 U.S. 321 (1998)


Hosep Bajakajian (defendant) tried to leave the United States without reporting that he was carrying $357,144. Currency sniffing dogs detected money in Bajakajian’s checked baggage. When asked, Bajakajian lied about the amount of money he was carrying. Bajakajian was indicted by a grand jury for the failure to report, for making false statements to the United States Customs Service, and the forfeiture of the full amount under 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1). Bajakajian pled guilty to the reporting failure, and the false statement count was dropped. The District Court held forfeiture of the full amount proper because the money was “involved in” the crime. Nevertheless, the District Court reduced the forfeiture to $15,000 and a fine of $5,000 on the grounds that forfeiture of the full amount would violate the Excessive Fines Clause. The government appealed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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