Civil Asset Forfeiture

I’m just saying they’re not the kind of people who want the additional attention of raising such challenges, since it will inevitably result in their skeletons being exposed.

Not that it’s any more ok to do this to them, but that they’re not the ones who are going to fight back.

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Many decades ago, in fact, the burden was on the people to make their case against the property before they could seize it. Seeing how inconvenient that was for them in order to seize 20 grand from an obvious drug dealer on a traffic stop, the laws and/rules rules got changed.


I think glitch99 might be right in that most of the time the asset seizures are actually related to criminal activity.

The people rarely fight back.

But we don’t know if that means they were guilty or if they just didn’t try. Unforunately if the government takes your money then you have to do the work and hire a lawyer and try to get it back. That is expensive and a hassle and often not worth the effort or invesetment.

" Proponents argue property owners rarely fight forfeiture because “[m]ost cases are indisputable.” 3 While that reasoning may explain some uncontested forfeitures, it is likely that the difficulty and expense of fighting forfeiture, paired with the low value of most forfeitures, deter many owners from fighting for return of their property. Without the right to legal counsel, to say nothing of other protections available in criminal proceedings, property owners must hire their own attorney or attempt to navigate the confusing civil forfeiture process, with its many procedural traps, on their own. When valuable property is at stake, an owner may decide fighting back is worth the headache. But when property is worth $2,000 or less, as it most often is, owners may—quite understandably—decide fighting back is more trouble than it is worth. Failure to make a claim may be evidence less of guilt than of a rational choice to walk away."

There are a lot of problems with the current system that can be improved on .

New Mexico has pretty much gotten rid of it :


So what? The Bill of Rights protects (or should, at least) people with skeletons in their closet just as much as it protects the rest of us. I don’t have anything to hide, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to invite the government to start trampling on my liberties.


I think also the kind of people who carry around assets that can be easily seized are also likely not to know how to fight it. I know I rarely have even $100 on me or do any transaction in cash these days. So it probably skews towards underbanked people who may also not be well connected, and/or savvy enough to know how to defend themselves. I think the average amount seized was less than $1300 IIRC.

If in addition, you’re talking about a long, complex, and costly process that may not get them back their money, requires them to take time off work to appear in court, etc. I don’t know if it says much about their actual guilt or if it says how stacked the system may be against them. Possibly a bit of both.


So…the second part of my comment, that you left out. Such people wont fight back, to get their stuff back nor to get the laws changed. And until that happens, it’s not going to stop. The question was, how is this legal. This is why.

Keep making that claim when you buy a morning departure/evening return from bwi, stl, bhm, atl, sdf, msy, etc. to sdf, hrl, or elp, paying with cash.

Trust me, you’ll miss the funeral that you’re going to. :frowning: You will then have to decide if spending a couple of dozen hours trying to retrieve your 5 or 6 hundred bucks is worth it.

ETA: I’m not saying forfeiture is a worthless tool. I believe that it is valuable, but needs strict oversight or very big counterbalance.

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That is the fearmongering I initially mentioned. Does it happen? Sure. But not in any mass quantities to be considered commonplace.

I think buying certain plane tickets with cash raises a different red flag due to profiling of potential terrorist activity.

Yeah I think the seizers likely sku to unbanked people

It was the median value that was around $1300. So yeah at least half of people are losing less than $2000 that it would typiclaly cost to hire a lawyer to retreive it. Doesn’t make sense to pay a lawyer $2000 and wait and deal with hassle to try and recover a smaller $ amount. So the majority of people are just plain screwed and would lose money trying to get their money back. So the fact that most people don’t fight it isnt’ really any indication they’re guilty.


If you don’t trust me, try it for yourself. Go to one of the departure airports listed, with cash and a driver’s license. Book one of the flights I described. Tell a friend before you enter the airport. Under the age of 65, better than 8 of 10 will miss that funeral.

It’s drugs, not terrorism.

Ok, but how many people actually do this? It could even catch 100% of such people, and would still not produce mass quantities of victims.

I didn’t realize that we were discussing mass quantities. In my mind, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

If the stats show 82% of profiles get stopped (and held until after departure time), and only 45% get prosecuted, I consider that, at best, a failed profile and at worst, an intentional abuse of power.


Of course. But the question was, how is this legal? And the answer is, because it doesnt effect enough people to prompt a change; for a vast majority of people, the perception is that it primarily affects criminals and thus there is limited desire to help criminals get away with their loot.

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From a former police officer’s perspective - I agree that many asset forfeiture laws need to be reformed. I think an arrest should be made at the time of forfeiture or an arrest should be required within a certain timeframe after the forfeiture. If there is no arrest, there should be no forfeiture. However, from my experience with the legal system, requiring a criminal conviction for the forfeiture to stick is too high a bar. Not because it isn’t easy to convict criminals, but because there are all kinds of things that happen in court that can result in someone not being convicted of a particular crime even if they are guilty. Lots of times prosecutors drop certain charges and pursue others - for all kinds of reasons beyond just plea agreements. Requiring convictions in order to keep forfeited money would take a useful tool away from prosecutors AND defense attorneys.


I Think most would be satisfied with a “show cause” type of hearing being required within a certain timeframe, to establish if, why, and for how long they can keep the seized assets. Where both potential charges and those special circumstances you mention can be considered. Instead of the burden and cost being on the victim to even try to get their stuff back.


I see your point, and it’s a sad truth that poorer people have effectively less rights than richer people for all the reasons noted in this thread (unbanked, lack of resources to fight it, lack of political power, etc.).

There needs to be some sort of due process. Maybe my suggestion was too high a bar, but I’m not certain. I think glitch’s “show cause” bar is far too low. Much like search warrants are basically rubber-stamped, I would foresee such hearings to be ineffective at curbing abuse.


Its kidn of a general truth with our legal system.

If you’re rich and can hire good lawyers you will fare better than a poor person who depends on the luck of the draw public defendant.


That’d be a start but wouldn’t that be too low a requirement though? You could arrest someone on vague suspicions of a crime based on thin circumstantial evidence (which is basically the case with preponderance of the evidence standard currently), then prosecutor could drop all charges once they realize evidence won’t be sufficient to convict suspect of anything. Bottom line, seized money still forfeited. Slightly different procedure, same outcome.

If conviction is too restrictive, what about including plea agreements, and allowing for charges to change? I mean if you arrested someone and seized their money on suspicion of drug trafficking and found out they were only involved in money laundering, wouldn’t that be good enough reason to keep the assets forfeited?