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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 ?
Still we are not here discussing nations but contrabandists, who in all parts are subject to the force of the law of the land wherever they are without ever giving the just motives for causing offense to their own nation.
Inevitably, this assault hurt the morale of guards in other stations throughout the reserve, as the contrabandists intended.
Negatively affected by the turmoil in Libya and Tunisia's limitations on the cross-border trade around Ben Gardane, (i) R'baya' contrabandists and traffickers found in the lure of violent extremism the opportunity to chip away at both the authority of the government and the town's established tribe of Twazine.
Both Ferrand and these contrabandists devised their own solutions to navigate the tensions between the force of enslavement and the law of "slavery"--a tension that had existed in the French world since at least the promulgation of the Code Noir.
"Rum Row," for example, located off the Northeast coast beyond the three-mile limit, enabled contrabandists to ferry hooch by the boatload to New York for illegal tippling in speakeasies and private clubs.
Islamic fundamentalist militias and contrabandists are sending tons of ground to air missiles, machine guns and automatic rifles seized from Gadhafi's arms depots to Egypt, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and all points east, west, south and north.
Authorities are looking for him because of various criminal acts but they assess that he and those like him are contrabandists and are not a threat to the country's security.