22 Mar 2019
The Tide Is Changing for Civil Forfeiture

The Tide Is Changing for Civil Forfeiture 

Article from The Hill by Jared Skorup.


There’s an under-the-radar fight brewing in Washington, D.C., and in states across the nation. The debate concerns when law enforcement can take private property from citizens via a process known as civil forfeiture.

In most states, law enforcement entities can take and keep assets without even charging someone with a crime. The items are usually cars or cash, but they can also be cellphones, legal weapons, houses, and more.

The dispute largely pits advocates of criminal justice reform — both conservative and liberal groups — and harmed citizens against prosecutors and law enforcement. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the federal government has also increasingly been an obstacle to reform.

In concept, civil asset forfeiture is supposed to punish criminals — especially drug dealers — by taking the proceeds of illegal activity. But in practice, innocent citizens across the country are losing their property, typically without the need for law enforcement to prove any wrongdoing. The Institute for Justice, a leading group pushing forfeiture reform, has represented grocers whose savings have been forfeited to the police, a Burmese Christian rock band, second-generation hotel owners and others. All these parties suffered the loss of their assets; none were actually charged with a crime.


Read the full article at The Hill.


Image Credit: By U.S. Navy photo by Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Juan Pinalez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Marshall P. Williams

    It is about time!! The so called “civil fortiture” is nothing but government theft. If you cannot prove that a crime was committed in a court of law, then keep your hands off our property.

  2. Don Turner

    I was forced to be finger printed before a court appearance. I thought I was presumed innocent until proven guilty.

  3. Alan

    The process described as Civil Forfeiture, also Civil Asset Forfeiture, a process more properly known as Theft Under Color Of Law has been operated for far to long, by thieves at all levels of government, state, federal and local, thievery being a proper name for this activity. If the phrasing of the headline is correct, then it is bloody well about time, actually long overdue, Asset Forfeiture, as usually operated being a direct result of the moral incompetence of our elected things, at all levels of government, who looked the other way, for far to long.

  4. Alan

    Funny thing, but those clowns all dressed up in their combat regalia or whatever it might be don’t in the least remind me of John The Cop that I remember from my childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. By the way, for reasons that I’m sometimes curious about, most people are still law abiding, just as they were back when I was a kid. Can the same be said of or for the cops is unfortunately, an open question. They probable are, but there are some truly rotten apples in the bushel.

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