April 16, 2019
Asset forfeiture happens at all levels of government, which is why asset protection is essential.
According to a Cato Institute study, 84% of Americans oppose an idea called “civil asset forfeiture.” The study provides the definition as:
… police “taking a person’s money or property that is suspected to have been involved in a drug crime before the person is convicted of a crime.”
Now you might be thinking, “If this idea applies only to criminals, what makes it so bad?” As you’ll soon read, it doesn’t just apply to criminals. In fact, it takes your protected right to innocence until proven guilty and throws it out the window.
As reported on the Institute for Justice website:
Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy and lucrative for law enforcement to take and keep property—regardless of the owner’s guilt or innocence.
And now this threat has gotten all too real.
“Policing for Profit” – Coming to Your Driveway Soon?
Tyson Timbs did something wrong, he sold a small amount of drugs to undercover officers. But he did his time under house arrest and probation.
Yet he still doesn’t have his $42,000 Land Rover. It was taken on suspicion of his crimes by the police. So it acted like a big extrajudicial fine for his drug conviction.
One of the problems with “policing for profit” is it leaves open questions. Timbs’ case went to the Supreme Court, where he won on the position that taking his Land Rover was an “excessive fine.”
But after winning, he still doesn’t have his vehicle. A recent NPR piece covering the result of his case asked some questions you need to ponder:
“How much property can the government take from a person in connection with a crime? Can they take your car? Maybe. Can they take your cash? Maybe. … We don’t know the answers to those important questions yet.”
But think a little bit deeper, and you’ll realize it takes a huge investment of time and money to contest an asset forfeiture by the police. So if they took your stuff, would you even be able to afford to fight it?
Most people can’t. So if the amount to litigate is more than the stuff they took, the State essentially gets to bully you into submission, while selling your forfeited assets for profit.
The U.S. Constitution is Supposed to Protect You
The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect you against authorities who want to impose excessive bail, fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.
It reads: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
But U.S. State authorities have played on the “vagueness” by trying to redefine what “excessive” means. In short, they are playing word games so they can take what they want whether you like it or not.
And they are doing this even as the Supreme Court declared in the Timbs case…
… all 50 States have a constitutional provision prohibiting the imposition of excessive fines either directly or by requiring proportionality.
Here’s the worst part about civil asset forfeiture: You don’t have to be charged with, or convicted of, any crime for the police to seize your assets.
In fact, it has happened in every State in the U.S., according to The Heritage Foundation.
There are many examples of egregious abuses, but here are three notable ones:
- Joseph Rivers saved $16,000 to pursue a career in music, only to have it taken by the DEA under suspicion of drug-related crime. He cooperated, was never charged with any crime, but never saw his money again.
- A driver had $3,500 taken from him, just because he “looked like” a criminal. The driver did nothing illegal, but never saw his cash again.
- Another couple driving in the left lane without passing got pulled over by the police. After a questionable search of their car found $6,037 in cash, they were given an ultimatum… give up the cash or be charged with a felony and have their kids taken by the State.
It could happen to anybody. If you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be next person on the State’s asset forfeiture list.
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