Denver’s Asset Forfeiture Laws Are Ridiculous
Article from Reason by Scott Shackford.
Denver cab driver Semere Fremichael got caught up in an undercover prostitution sting. He was innocent—he thought she wanted a ride, not sex for pay—and was acquitted by a judge.
His taxi, however, got taken for a rough ride. Denver’s Fox affiliate has an excellent two-part investigation showing how the city attorney’s office is using civil asset forfeiture to cash in by snatching vehicles like Fremichael’s for even low-level crimes, and even when their owners aren’t convicted.
Denver put the screws to Fremichael, according to Fox reporter Rob Low, offering him a civil version of a plea deal: He could get the car back in 30 days if he gave them $1,000. Or he could demand a civil hearing. If he lost, it would cost him $6,000 and he could lose the car for a year. He took the deal, and says he probably lost an additional $2,500 because he couldn’t use his cab for a month, even though he committed no crime.
City Attorney Kristin Bronson defends the seizure of these cars on camera, but doesn’t acquit herself well (pun unintended). Bronson insists she isn’t abusing forfeiture because the ordinance has been around for 20 years. Which could mean Denver has been abusing the law for a long time.
Read the entire article in Reason.
Image Credit: By Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons