FORFEITURE, punishment, torts. Forfeiture is a punishment annexed by law to some illegal act, or negligence, in the owner of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, whereby he loses all his interest therein, and they become vested in the party injured, as a recompense for the wrong which he alone, or the Public together with himself, hath sustained. 2 Bl. Com. 267.
2. Lands, tenements and hereditaments, may be forfeited by various means: 1. By the commission of crimes and misdemeanors. 2. By alienation contrary to law. 3. By the non-performance of conditions. 4. By waste.
3. - 1. Forfeiture for crimes. By the Constitution of the United States, art. 3, s. 3, it is declared that no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted. And by the Act of April 30, 1790, s. 24, 1 Story's Laws U. S. 88, it is enacted, that no conviction or judgment for any of the offences aforesaid, shall work corruption of blood, or any forfeiture of estate. As the offences punished by this act are of the blackest dye, including cases of treason, the punishment of forfeiture may be considered as being abolished. The forfeiture of the estate for crime is very much reduced in practice in this country, and when it occurs, the stater takes the title the party had, and no more. 4 Mason's R. 174; Dalrymple on Feudal Property, c. 4, p. 145-154; Fost. C. L. 95.
4. - 2. Forfeiture by alienation. By the English law, estates less than a fee may be forfeited to the party entitled to the residuary interest by a breach of duty in the owner of the particular estate. When a tenant for life or years, therefore, by feoffment, fine, or recovery, conveys a greater estate than he is by law entitled to do, he forfeits his estate to the person next entitled in remainder or reversion. 2 Bl. Com. 274. In this country, such forfeitures are almost unknown, and the more just principle prevails, that the conveyance by the tenant operates only on the interest which he possessed, and does not affect the remainder-man or reversioner. 4 Kent, Com. 81, 82, 424; 1 Hill. Ab. c. 4, s. 25 to 34; 3 Dall. Rep. 486; 5 Ohio, R. 30.
5. - 3. Forfieture by non-performance of conditions. An estate may be forfeited by a breach, or non-performance of a condition annexed to the estate, either expressed in the deed at its original creation, or impliedly by law, from a principle of natural reason. 2 Bl. Com. 281; and see Ad Eject. 140 to 173. Vide article Reentry; 12 Serg. & Rawle, 190.
6. - 4. Forfeiture by waste. Waste is also a cause of forfeiture. 2 Bl. Com. 283. Vide article Waste.
7. By forfeiture is also understood the neglect of an obligor to fulfil his obligation in proper time: as, when one has entered into a bond for a penal sum, upon condition to pay a smaller at a particular day, and he fails to do it, there is then said to be a forfeiture. Again, when a party becomes bound in a certain sum by a recognizance to pay a certain sum, with a condition that he will appear at court to answer or prosecute a crime, and he fails to do it, there is a forfeiture of the recognizance. Courts of equity, and now courts, of law, will relieve from the forfeiture of a bond; and upon a proper case shown, criminal courts will in general relieve from the forfeiture of a recognizance to appear. See 3 Yeates, 93; 2 Wash. C. C. 442 Blackf. 104, 200; Breeze, 257. Vide, generally, 2 Bl. Com. ch. 18; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.; 2 Kent's Com; 318; 4 Id. 422; 10 Vin. Ab. 371, 394 13 Vin. Ab. 436; Bac. Ab. Forfeiture Com. Dig. h. t.; Dane's Ab. h. t.; 1 Bro Civ. L. 252 4 Bl. Com. 382; and Considerations on the Law of Forfeiture for High Treason, London ed. l746.