Civil forfeiture threatens the property rights of all Americans. These laws allow the police to seize your home, car, cash or other property upon the mere suspicion that it has been used or involved in criminal activity.Do you think someone is exaggerating? Think again.
Law enforcement can confiscate your property and/or money...and keep it. You don't have to be proven guilty; you don't even have to be charged with a crime for them to be able to keep it. Law enforcement can simply say that it looks as if the property or cash was used criminally or as if it was gotten illegally. They don't have to prove it; they need only suspect it.
From a 2008 NPR article:
As a tactic in the war on drugs, law enforcement pursues that drug money and is then allowed to keep a portion as an incentive to fight crime.
As a result, the amount of drug dollars flowing into local police budgets is staggering. Justice Department figures show that in the past four years alone, the amount of assets seized by local law enforcement agencies across the nation enrolled in the federal program—the vast majority of it cash—has tripled, from $567 million to $1.6 billion. And that doesn't include tens of millions more the agencies got from state asset forfeiture programs.Property forfeiture is a very profitable business for law enforcement agencies so they have every reason to continue the practice.
In the 22 years from 1989 to 2010, an estimated $12.6 billion in assets were seized by U.S. Attorneys in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time frame averaged an annual +19.4%. For just 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% over 2009 and equaled 6 times greater than that for 1989.It is past time to pull law enforcement back under control.