Tag Archives: civil asset forfeiture

Rand Paul: Civil asset forfeiture turns the American justice system on its head

In many cases civil asset forfeiture is legalized theft from innocent property owners who have little recourse to get their property back.  Institute for Justice, mentioned in the article, takes a lot of these cases pro bono and is an excellent recipient for your liberty-minded donations (I donate). From Rand Paul at rare.us:

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the bedrock of American jurisprudence. Civil asset forfeiture, a legal process in which the government confiscates your property without a guilty verdict, turns that justice on its head.

Take the case of the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. In 2009, owner Russ Caswell found himself the target of a civil forfeiture claim by the federal government and his local police department, even though he had never been accused – much less convicted – of a crime. It should also be noted that, historically, the motel had a good working relationship with the police, even providing them with free rooms for stakeouts and contacting them about suspicious activities.

The government’s basis for seizing the property? Fifteen “drug-related incidents” over a 14-year period – out of around 196,000 rooms rented.

In its reporting on the case, WBUR recounted how a DEA agent testified that it was his job “to seek out targets for forfeiture by watching television news and reading newspapers” and to check the Registry of Deeds after discovering properties where drug crimes had taken place. The Motel Caswell, with a more than $1 million value and lack of mortgage, became the focus of a combined effort between the DEA and the local police, according to the agent.

If the Caswells had lost, the federal government and local police department could have split the proceeds of selling the property under so-called “equitable sharing” – with the police department keeping up to 80 percent of the profit.

With the help of the Institute for Justice, which took on their case pro bono, the Caswells triumphed in court. But not every story gets such a happy ending.

To continue reading: Rand Paul: Civil asset forfeiture turns the American justice system on its head

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Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind, by John W. Whitehead

Civil asset forfeiture is legalized theft by police departments and governments. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism. It is the aim of the Bill of Rights, if it has any remaining aim at all, to curb such prehensile gentry. Its function is to set a limitation upon their power to harry and oppress us to their own private profit.”— H.L. Mencken

Let’s not mince words.

Jeff Sessions, the nation’s top law enforcement official, would not recognize the Constitution if he ran right smack into it.

Whether the head of the Trump Administration’s Justice Department enjoys being the architect of a police state or is just painfully, criminally clueless, Sessions has done a great job thus far of sidestepping the Constitution at every turn.

Most recently, under the guise of “fighting crime,” Sessions gave police the green light to rob, pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe, purloin, filch and liberate American taxpayers of even more of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it happens to be significant amounts of cash) using any means, fair or foul.

In this case, the foul method favored by Sessions & Co. is civil asset forfeiture, which allows police and prosecutors to “seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime.”

Under a federal equitable sharing program, police turn asset forfeiture cases over to federal agents who process seizures and then return 80% of the proceeds to the police. (In Michigan, police actually get to keep up to 100% of forfeited property.)

This incentive-driven excuse for stealing from the citizenry is more accurately referred to as “policing for profit” or “theft by cop.”

To continue reading: Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind

 

Jeff Sessions Moves to Make it Easier for Government to Steal Property of Innocent American Citizens, by Michael Krieger

Civil asset forfeiture is an appalling practice that takes people’s property without anything approaching due process. Attorney General Jeff Session undoubtedly lowers himself a few more rungs in hell by proposing to expand the practice. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Civil asset forfeiture has been a key topic here at Liberty Blitzkrieg over the years for one very obvious reason. The practice has absolutely no place in any halfway humane and decent civilization. The fact that this barbaric, authoritarian practice somehow has legal protection in these United States says so much about the state of the nation and the level of thuggishness we’re willing to put up with as a people.

For new readers who aren’t familiar with the subject, here’s a quick refresher:

Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanently.

Additionally, many states allow law enforcement agencies to keep cash that they seize, creating what critics characterize as a profit motive. The practice is widespread: In 2014, federal law enforcement officers took more property from citizens than burglars did. State and local authorities seized untold millions more.

Since 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration alone has taken more than $3 billion in cash from people not charged with any crime, according to the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The practice is ripe for abuse. In one case in 2016, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,”suspecting she was not in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter’s birthday money.

To continue reading: Jeff Sessions Moves to Make it Easier for Government to Steal Property of Innocent American Citizens

The DEA Has Stolen $3.2 Billion from Americans Without Charges Since 2007, by Michael Krieger

Here’s another racket: civil asset forfeiture. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

In my post published earlier this week, Recent TSA Molestation Video Proves Americans Have Become Authority Worshipping Slaves, I noted the following:

Yeah, it’s disgusting, inappropriate and anathema to a free people, but that’s the point. We aren’t a free people. We’ve become a bunch of authority-worshiping subjects toiling on a plantation dominated by multi-national companies who write our laws and manipulate our thoughts through corporate media. The worst part is we don’t do anything about it. We elect Trump and then puff our chests out yelling stupid slogans like MAGA, as molestations from the TSA get worse. Well done everyone.

I was pleased that the above paragraph connected with many people, but for those of you who think I was being hyperbolic, take a look at the following excerpts from a piece recently published at The Washington Post, Since 2007, the DEA Has Taken $3.2 Billion in Cash from People Not Charged with a Crime:

The Drug Enforcement Administration takes billions of dollars in cash from people who are never charged with criminal activity, according to a report issued today by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

Since 2007, the report found, the DEA has seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of involvement with the drug trade. But 81 percent of those seizures, totaling $3.2 billion, were conducted administratively, meaning no civil or criminal charges were brought against the owners of the cash and no judicial review of the seizures ever occurred.

Remember, the terrorists hate us for our freedom.

That total does not include the dollar value of other seized assets, like cars, homes, electronics and clothing.

These seizures are all legal under the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture, which allows authorities to take cash, contraband and property from people suspected of crime. But the practice does not require authorities to obtain a criminal conviction, and it allows departments to keep seized cash and property for themselves unless individuals successfully challenge the forfeiture in court. Critics across the political spectrum say this creates a perverse profit motive, incentivizing police to seize goods not for the purpose of fighting crime, but for padding department budgets.

To continue reading: The DEA Has Stolen $3.2 Billion from Americans Without Charges Since 2007

Civil Asset Forfeiture – Ruining Lives, While Failing To Stop Crime, by Duane Norman

Trump’s come down on the wrong side of the civil asset forfeiture issue and he may not even know what it is. From Duane Norman at fmshooter.com:

Yesterday, President Trump met with the National Sheriff’s Association at the White House. Like so many Trump comments, this one took a strange turn when Trump (jokingly or not) threatened to “destroy the career” of a Texas state Senator:

During the meeting, Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson told President Trump about a piece of asset forfeiture legislation he believes would aid Mexican drug cartels…here’s the full conversation:

Eavenson: “There’s a state senator in Texas that was talking about legislation to require conviction before we could receive that forfeiture money.”

Trump: “Do you believe that?”

Eavenson: “And I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.”

Trump: “Who is that state senator? I want to hear his name. We’ll destroy his career…”

Though the major point of conversation was about Trump’s threat to a state legislator, the bigger story should be the implicit support Trump gave to civil asset forfeiture, whether he realized it or not. And if you are not aware what civil asset forfeiture is, it is (surprisingly) something that is agreed by both sides of the aisle to be unjust and unconstitutional, and rightfully so.

Civil asset forfeiture is defined by Wikipedia as “a controversial legal process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.” The practice is commonplace in the war on drugs, but it can be extended to almost anything.

What it means is that the government can essentially seize any of your assets it can find (be it in a bank account, or cash/gold/whatever you have in a safe or under the mattress), label them a part of a “criminal investigation,” and keep them indefinitely, without sufficient due process for the citizen to challenge the seizures, and whether you are ultimately charged with a crime or not.

To continue reading: Civil Asset Forfeiture – Ruining Lives, While Failing To Stop Crime

Carrying Cash? Be Ready to Lose It, by Mark Nestmann

There are very good reasons for not keeping a lot of cash in banks. From Mark Nestmann on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Don’t trust banks to protect the money you’ve deposited? You’re hardly alone.

From a legal standpoint, the money you deposit in a bank no longer belongs to you. Instead, the bank owns it. You are merely just another one of their unsecured creditors. What’s more, in the event of future bank failures, the US government has now signed an international agreement confirming that it will not pay off depositors. Instead, it will force them to submit to a “bail-in” regime, like bank depositors in Cyprus experienced in 2013.

The bail-in scenario, on top of the lowest interest rates in 5,000 years, has led many bank depositors to make the entirely rational decision to withdraw their savings from banks. They’re taking the cash and storing it, often in a home safe. Indeed, sales of home safes are soaring worldwide.

This behavior deeply disturbs the powers that be. In response, they’ve imposed stricter and stricter controls on cash. I wrote about those controls a year and a half ago, and since then, it’s only gotten worse.

In the US, one strategy the government uses to discourage people from holding cash is civil forfeiture. Under this Alice-in-Wonderland legal process, cops can seize your cash – or anything else you own – if they believe that it’s somehow connected to a crime… any crime. You don’t need to be convicted, accused, or even arrested for a crime to lose everything you own.

To continue reading: Carrying Cash? Be Ready to Lose It

How You Pay for Their Lies with Your Rights, by Mark Nestmann

Buy a one-way plane, train, or bus ticket or pay for it in cash and you may end up on a DEA watch list. From that, they may decide to seize your cash when you arrive at the airport, train terminal, or bust station, and you’ll have the same chance of getting it back as SLL does of winning a compliment from Hillary Clinton. From Mark Nestmann via theburningplatform.com:

When Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008, he promised to end the War on Drugs.

As a candidate, he suggested the century-long war had been a failure and America would do better with a public health approach to drug abuse.

As the president, he’s done the exact opposite. Obama has intensified tactics… and now his policies have sacrificed our rights to:

•  Travel freely
•  Keep our medical records private

What do I mean? Read on… the reality is shocking.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), routinely “data mine” travel itineraries to determine who might be carrying cash. There’s no warrant required. Then, they use the incredibly lax civil forfeiture laws to seize said cash on suspicion of illegal acts taking place without any real evidence of a crime being committed. It’s a racket, and DEA units posted at 15 of America’s busiest airports have used it to confiscate more than $200 million in cash over the past decade.

What makes them suspicious, you might wonder?

Basically, paying for your ticket in cash, or buying a one-way ticket on a plane, train, or bus, could result in a shakedown by federal agents, or local police working with the DEA. In the vast majority of cases, you won’t be arrested or detained. Agents will simply give you a receipt for your seized cash, and send you on your way.

But hold on a second. You might say, “Don’t such practices violate the Constitution or Bill of Rights?” If only that mattered these days. Issue here is, if a police dog smells drug residue on the cash, you’ll probably lose it. The obvious problem is more than 90% of circulating cash contains such residues.

Another involuntary sacrifice you’re forced to make to fight their drug war is your medical privacy. This part of the war focuses on prescription medication, so even if you’ve never touched marijuana, cocaine, or heroin in your life, you’re still under surveillance.

So far, 32 states already share prescription data with the DEA. And the Obama administration has sued the remaining states in federal court to force them into line. It claims it has the right to obtain this data using only an “administrative subpoena.” This demand for information requires the agency issuing it to demonstrate that the information sought could be useful for law enforcement purposes. There’s no probable cause, no warrant… no “due process” whatsoever.

The Obama administration argues that you have no expectation of privacy in your prescription records because you have submitted them to a third party – a pharmacy. This is the same logic, incidentally, the government successfully used in a series of cases before the Supreme Court in the 1970s to persuade it to uphold the Bank Secrecy Act, which effectively ended financial privacy in the US.

Obama, of course, is only the latest president to pursue the War on Drugs. The war unofficially began in 1914, when Congress restricted the marketing of opiates and coca/cocaine products. Advocates for the new law spoke of “drug-crazed, sex-mad Negroes” murdering whites and “Chinamen” seducing white women with opium. Congress later imposed similar restrictions on marijuana.

Federal penalties for drug possession were stiffened in the 1950s, and in 1970, Congress enacted a law that gave federal prosecutors the right to confiscate the property of anyone convicted of drug trafficking in a process called criminal forfeiture. That same year, justifying the War on Drugs and Organized Crime for doing so, Congress passed the Bank Secrecy Act. Eight years later, Congress gave prosecutors the ability to seize the property of anyone suspected of involvement in the drug trade through civil forfeiture proceedings. (Executives at Phizer, Bayer and the rest of big pharma don’t count here of course).

To coninue reading: How You Pay for Their Lies with Your Rights