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Any property that it is illegal to produce or possess. Smuggled goods that are imported into or exported from a country in violation of its laws.

Contraband confiscated by law enforcement authorities upon the arrest of a person for the crimes of production or possession of such goods will not be returned, regardless of the outcome of the prosecution.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1 goods that are prohibited by law from being exported or imported; illegally imported or exported goods.
2 in international law, contraband of war denotes goods that a neutral country may not supply to a belligerent.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CONTRABAND, mar. law. Its most extensive sense, means all commerce which is carried on contrary to the laws of the state. This term is also used to designate all kinds of merchandise which are used, or transported, against the interdictions published by a ban or solemn cry.
     2. The term is usually applied to that unlawful commerce which is so carried on in time of war. Merlin, Repert. h.t. Commodities particularly useful in war are contraband as arms, ammunition, horses, timber for ship building, and every kind of naval stores. When articles come into use as implements of war, which were before innocent, they may be declared to be contraband. The greatest difficulty to decide what is contraband seems to have occurred in the instance of provisions, which have not been held to be universally contraband, though Vattel admits that they become so on certain occasions, when there is an expectation of reducing an enemy by famine.
     3. In modern times one of the principal criteria adopted by the courts for the decision of the question, whether any particular cargo of provisions be confiscable as contraband, is to examine whether those provisions be in a rude or manufactured state; for all articles, in such examinations, are treated with greater indulgence in their natural condition than when wrought tip for the convenience of the enemy's immediate use. Iron, unwrought, is therefore treated with indulgence, though anchors, and other instruments fabricated out of it, are directly contraband. 1 Rob. Rep. 1 89. See Vattel, b. 3, c. 7 Chitty's L. of Nat. 120; Marsh. Ins. 78; 2 Bro. Civ., Law, 311; 1 Kent. Com. 135; 3 Id. 215.
     4. Contraband of war, is the act by which, in times of war, a neutral vessel introduces, or attempts to introduce into the territory of, one of the belligerent parties, arms, ammunition, or other effects intended for, or which may serve, hostile operations. Merlin, Repert. h.t. 1 Kent, Com. 135; Mann. Comm. B. 3, c. 7; 6 Mass. 102; 1 Wheat. 382; 1 Cowen, 56 John. Cas. 77, 120.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The KPAWU officials and members said: "Importers of contraband goods are not only sabotaging Kenya's economy but are individuals killing jobs for the youth."
A consignment of 2,000 bags of contraband sugar was seized at a warehouse in Matuu on Saturday as the state stepped up war on the illicit trade.
He said they were investigating how the illegal drugs and other contraband slip past the jail guards at the entrance gates.
Charges will be filed against the detainees from whom the contraband were seized.
Diary of a Contraband brings to light an important historical document and opens a window on one remarkable ordinary man's experience of a moment of our national self-definition.
(11) In a letter to Brigadier General Cullum, he directed him to "Find contrabands, and put them to work to pay for food and clothing.
(4) "The Contrabands at Fortress Monroe," Atlantic Monthly (November 1861), 627.
However, even if not antislavery in sentiment, most officers and sailors did not want to return contrabands to slavery.
Although most officers were willing to keep contrabands on board until guided by a formal policy, they were unwilling to allow contrabands to remain unemployed.
"We commend the efforts of the government to fight the nuisance of contraband sugar that threatens the industry's growth and moreso, our sugar farmers," the company said.
Earlier today, Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati claimed a "well-known parliamentarian" is behind the trade in contraband sugar.
He said they would continue with the operations until they get rid of all contraband items inside the NBP.