Civil asset forfeiture enables law enforcement officers to seize cash and property.
Earlier this year, The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center released Arresting Your Property, a comprehensive report on civil asset forfeiture – the much maligned law enforcement tool that enables law enforcement officers to seize cash and property on the suspicion that it has been used to facilitate, or is the result of, criminal activity.
Forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to keep the proceeds of their seizures, incentivizing police and prosecutors to zealously target money and property, often in lieu of going after the criminals themselves. And all too often, forfeiture’s targets are not criminals at all – they are ordinary people with valuable assets who happen to be carrying cash in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Today, the Meese Center has updated its database of abusive forfeitures – sixty accounts of motorists, entrepreneurs, and homeowners who have had their assets seized despite little-to-no evidence to corroborate claims of criminal activity. Many eventually won the return of their property, often at great personal and financial cost.
Others, sadly, had to walk away penniless because of arbitrary filing deadlines or their own inability to afford a lawyer
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