Civil Asset Forfiture

alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior MemberPosts: 8,590 Senior Member
[video=youtube_share;3kEpZWGgJks]

This has come up before sporadically in different threads here and there, but I wanted to start a more comprehensive thread on this topic. John Oliver tackled the issue in the video above. While many of you may not agree with his politics in general (or may have never seen him), he's 100% spot on on this issue. Frankly it's an issue that rarely gets enough attention, but it seems that lately it has been getting some, which is a very good thing.

The law essentially says that the police can seize your property, especially cash, for basically no reason and that it is up to you to prove that the property was yours and obtained legally. Of course the the process for getting it back is intentionally challenging and expensive so most people either cannot afford to get their property back or it's not worth it. While the original purpose is to catch drug traffickers and terrorists, it ends up being used against many small business owners and regular middle class citizens who then have little recourse. To make matters worse, in most states the law enforcement agencies are allowed to keep the money and stuff the seize and spend it pretty much however they heck they want. This obviously sets up a perverse incentive to where the LEO's actively seek to steal people's money, even if they have little reason to be suspicious that the money is the result of a crime.

You know the government is in the wrong when you have

The ACLU:
https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/civil-asset-forfeiture

The CATO Institute:
http://www.cato.org/events/policing-profit-abuse-civil-asset-forfeiture

And the Heritage Foundation:
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/civil-asset-forfeiture-7-things-you-should-know

All on the same side as the Washington Post and the New York Times:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/10/03/another-civil-asset-forfeiture-outrage/

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/law-lets-irs-seize-accounts-on-suspicion-no-crime-required/ar-BBbbfW3?ocid=mailsignout

This crap has to stop. NOW!
"Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
-DoctorWho
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Replies

  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,816 Senior Member
    Civil asset forfeiture is just an extension of the gooberment inheritance tax. It's a way to 'legally' confiscate what someone has and bankrupt them in the process.

    And eminent domain is another way to take someone's property for a 'supposed' public use, and at far below market value, and sell it to a private company/corporation/whatever, and get all that kickback money.

    The government has been corrupt for over a century, and it ain't gonna get better.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,269 Senior Member
    Sometimes it backfires. My brother won a multi-million dollar damage suit against the IRS when they closed down a pharmacy and seized all the merchandise with less than ironclad documentation. The next time he showed up as the attorney of record in a similar case, they fell all over themselves getting the charges dropped in record time and returning his client's assets. They obviously didn't relish the thought of another jury handing them their butts on a silver platter!
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,816 Senior Member
    THE + IRS = THEIRS
    Used to be that a person was innocent until proven guilty. What would be fair is that if the IRS or their sister agencies acted wrongly, then the minimum penalty for THEM would start at $1M, tax free and go up from there, and it would come out of their budget, not the general treasury. If they run out of money, well, sucks to be them. And they would be charged with theft by taking under color of law; every last one that had a hand in the seizure of assets; no plea bargains; maximum sentences for all. What's fair for the goose is sauce for the gander. Never happen, though; the government has gotten so corrupt that there's only one way back, and it doesn't involve the ballot box; that's been corrupted beyond repair.

    Reagan was more right than he knew; the most frightening words in the English language ARE, "I'm from the government" and they are NEVER there to help. Only take in contravention of the 4th Amendment, steal whatever isn't immovable, and under color of law, and make you prove that 'property' isn't guilty. And that goes for the state governments that do the same thing. The states are just as corrupt as the feds when it comes to asset forfeiture.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    Teach, what's the case cite on this?

    Most IRS suits are for recovery, not punitive damages. Your brother will explain why this is the case. (Got to do with Standing) I'd be interested to review this case since I've got my own issues.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,269 Senior Member
    The punitive damages were against the IRS goon who assaulted the pharmacist's wife during the raid. They didn't find all the video surveillance cameras. Once he lost his job and his home and ended up with his future earnings garnisheed for the rest of his life, the rest of the Gestapo were too spooked to attempt any more "asset forfeitures" for quite a while.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    Case cite? I've done plenty of asset forfeitures, never lost one, would like to have some boilerplate here. Asset forfeitures are against an asset rather than against a person; the case typically reads "State against $50,000 in US Currency."

    I would like to study this case to avoid violating the rules the IRS violated. Should be a good read.

    I'm curious and would like to find out more about this case which promises to be interesting. Not necessarily through IRS, but through state laws for which this decision is boilerplate. The principal is the same. Due process. Dopers with 100K on drug deals, etc.in cash. Which we seized and won the case on a drug deal.

    I occasionally teach in Search and Seizure and would like an example as a teaching point.

    BTW, I think the term for attaching a wage is "garnish." The one who is garnished is the "garnishee."
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    Gene, what is your opinion on asset forfeiture as a LEO tool? Seems like it has a place, but seems easy to abuse and difficult to fight if you're innocent. Essentially outlaws cash and seems to often harm small businesses.
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    You have the wrong idea of asset forfeiture. The reason for seizing assets has to be real, like money used for a drug deal. The probable cause has to be very strong. It's not done usually unless a lot of money is involved, or a building housing a lot of drugs is seized. Which is rare, usually it's cash.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    You have the wrong idea of asset forfeiture. The reason for seizing assets has to be real, like money used for a drug deal. The probable cause has to be very strong. It's not done usually unless a lot of money is involved, or a building housing a lot of drugs is seized. Which is rare, usually it's cash.

    Based on the stories and anecdotes it absolutely is not rare, and it doesn't seem to be rare that random innocent people get swept up in it. It sounds like the agencies you've worked for have been better about it, but it does seem like a power that can be easily abused. I'm fine with seizing assets involved in a crime or used in the commission of a crime. But a significant amount of cash is stolen from individuals never even charged with a crime. That in my book is theft, pure and simple. Please read at least a few of the stories or watch just part of the video above. Maybe it's all blown out of proportion, but it doesn't seem that way.
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    Yeah, it's blown out of proportion by crooks and lawyers (not much difference there.) It CAN be abused, but I've never seen it abused. The reason many people aren't subsequently charged with a crime is because a seizure is separate from the crime. Also, it's not practical for small sums of money. About $50K is the cutoff.

    Maybe time to repeat myself: forfeitures and arrests are two separate legal concepts. A forfeiture is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. It's heard in civil court.

    One reason seizures are not contested is because to admit the money is yours is a tacit admission to the crime that led to the seizure. So say $100K is seized from a drug dealer who can't explain how he came to $100K. If he claims the money, he's in deep do-do. Another reason charges are not always made is the amount seized is greater than the fine of a guilty charge. Not to many crimes that carry a $100K fine.

    I don't know of seizures that abused power, but I'd like to hear about them other than anecdotal rumors.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/tag/civil-asset-forfeiture/

    Here's a fairly long list of examples. Also plenty of examples in the video and links posted above. Like shady speed traps, seems like at least some police agencies, especially along major transportation corridors are using this as a major cash cow. In most cases carrying any significant quantity of cash for any reason is assumed to be criminal and worthy of seizure. Then again this seems to just be part of the systematic process of outlawing cash in this country. How dare people not allow 100% of their transactions to be tracked electronically by the government!
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    It CAN be abused, but I've never seen it abused.

    Another reason charges are not always made is the amount seized is greater than the fine of a guilty charge.

    Because you've never seen it first hand it doesn't exist? Also, souldn't taking more than you could legally compel someone to pay be considered theft? Well we could only fine him $200 for speeding, but he was carrying $1000 so we just took the cash and let him go... I know this is an exaggeration, but still. How about we found him with a joint and $2000. We let him go but kept the cash. Nope, not acceptable. Then again if you're not doing anything wrong why ever carry cash anyway right? You're just asking for it to get stolen by the police!
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    And just because you've never seen it, it DOES exist?

    The example you cited is not even remotely close to how forfeiture works. What you've described involves an illegal seizure, not a forfeiture. Forfeiture is a LEGAL process, not one where funds are seized without cause or reason.

    You're so far off the mark, you remind me of the guy who kept insisting the .410 was a superior HD weapon. I wish you'd really get familiar with the process before you start to argue against the process. As of now, you don't have a clue.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,816 Senior Member
    Gene won't read this report; it's 123 pages long, and explains civil forfeiture, and has a state by state breakdown of civil forfeiture.

    http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/other_pubs/assetforfeituretoemail.pdf

    Edit to add:
    Georgia has one of the lowest levels of protection for citizens against civil forfeiture.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    You're right. I also don't read all the Rules of Law, because I don't need to. Forfeiture is a matter for lawyers to handle, not cops.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,816 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    You're right. I also don't read all the Rules of Law, because I don't need to. Forfeiture is a matter for lawyers to handle, not cops.

    That's pretty funny. You uphold laws and don't even know what they are. Since cops initiate the forfeiture by seizing the assets(money, whatever), your statement is a bit disingenuous.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    I USED to uphold the law simply by knowing only the Criminal Code of GA, not the Rules of Law. Which was plenty, and didn't include forfeiture. Nor did it include prosecution. Both these fall outside the Criminal Code. Common sense dictates if you find a kilo of cocaine and $100,000, something isn't right and likely the money is the "fruits of the crime." Fruits of the crime are subject to seizure and later forfeiture. Sorry, skippy, that's the way the world works. And has worked for a LONG time.

    Spotlight a deer or kill a turkey illegally in GA, and probably other states, get caught and your car and gun will be seized as "elements of the crime," and are subject to forfeiture. In a civil court, of course.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,624 Senior Member
    This stuff only happens to other people. It never happens to people like me.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    horselips wrote: »
    This stuff only happens to other people. It never happens to people like me.

    No, it doesn't. I've only know of it applied to dope dealers, gangsters, and politicians (Wm Tweed, for example.) The rest of us have few assets to seize.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Cops handled this, (originally stealing ) the lawyers gave it back.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91555835

    NPR is your source? Puh-leese. $5000 for a weekend of detailing cars? I don't buy that for a minute. Lawyers steal that much money for representing you for a traffic violation. Completely without scruples. Which is why they became lawyers in the first place.

    I think you need to look up the definition of Stealing before you toss around charges beyond your ability to comprehend.

    You might also look up the definitions of "Seizure" and "Civil Asset Forfeiture."

    I'm not sure that the black guy (African-American) was wearing dredlocks had to do with the seizure, except to further NPRs agenda of race-baiting. The examples you NPR gave were all minorities to show America is prejudiced and racist. And you fell for this?
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • coolgunguycoolgunguy Senior Member Posts: 6,355 Senior Member
    Okay, so we shouldn't listen to what the black guy is saying because the only reason he's saying it is to prove that America is racist? Do you even read this stuff before you hit the post button?


    You asked for examples and received them. You might not like NPR as a source of news, but it is a legitimate news source, as is Fox, NBC, etc., etc.

    What news source would you consider to be legitimate?
    "Bipartisan" usually means that a bigger than normal deception is happening.
    George Carlin
  • EliEli Senior Member Posts: 3,074 Senior Member
    coolgunguy wrote: »

    What news source would you consider to be legitimate?

    From everything that I've read on here, Gene seems to believe the stuff that he's seen with his own eyes (and only IF if paints LEOs in a good light). Anything that puts LEOs in even the slightest bit of wrong all seems to be bullschtuff that's been made up by liberals/lawyers/commies/media/thugs/drug dealers/criminals/ect...
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    Eli wrote: »
    From everything that I've read on here, Gene seems to believe the stuff that he's seen with his own eyes (and only IF if paints LEOs in a good light). Anything that puts LEOs in even the slightest bit of wrong all seems to be bullschtuff that's been made up by liberals/lawyers/commies/media/thugs/drug dealers/criminals/ect...
    This. And no one has ever been arrested without rock solid evidence, and no one has ever been abused by an officer of the law, and no swat raid has ever been negligently executed, and no one shot by an officer didn't deserve it, etc.

    Asset forfiture is crap, and clearly abused.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    $5000 for a weekend of detailing cars?

    Again, the default assumption is if you're carrying more than a few dollars cash you must be up to no good...
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • alphasigmookiealphasigmookie Senior Member Posts: 8,590 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    I USED to uphold the law simply by knowing only the Criminal Code of GA, not the Rules of Law. Which was plenty, and didn't include forfeiture. Nor did it include prosecution. Both these fall outside the Criminal Code. Common sense dictates if you find a kilo of cocaine and $100,000, something isn't right and likely the money is the "fruits of the crime." Fruits of the crime are subject to seizure and later forfeiture. Sorry, skippy, that's the way the world works. And has worked for a LONG time.

    Spotlight a deer or kill a turkey illegally in GA, and probably other states, get caught and your car and gun will be seized as "elements of the crime," and are subject to forfeiture. In a civil court, of course.
    I will agree with you that when used as originally intended forfeiture is a useful tool. The problem is in most states it's far too easy to abuse, there are strong financial incentives to abuse it (departments get to keep the cash), and there aren't enough protections for the innocent.
    "Finding out that you have run out of toilet paper is a good example of lack of preparation, buying 10 years worth is silly"
    -DoctorWho
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,553 Senior Member
    I am largely ignorant on this subject, and therefore neutral, pending the preponderance of evidence.

    But, I do know that the Sheriff in my county (in the '70's and '80's) financed his own personal 'war on drugs' locally by confiscating drug money and contraband. He seized a huge, expensive RV and turned it into a mobile command post, paid for training reserve deputies, mounted search capabilities, and numerous other LE equipment and capabilities. It was very controversial because they rounded up a lot of rich kids and relatives of prominent citizens in the county. But the Sheriff survived for over 30 years, running as Republican or Democrat, according to whatever strategy dictated, to defeat the big money campaigns mounted against him by some very influential people.

    To this day, I honestly don't know if everything he did was on the 'square,' but I do know that during his tenure, this county held its own against the drug business, and that today we probably still have less of a problem than most other large counties.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    I will agree with you that when used as originally intended forfeiture is a useful tool. The problem is in most states it's far too easy to abuse, there are strong financial incentives to abuse it (departments get to keep the cash), and there aren't enough protections for the innocent.

    In my state, forfeitures go to the county general fund. Forfeitures are rare, very rare. In NC, where I lived for a while, forfeitures from drug seizures went to the school system.

    As for cash, look at your $20 bill and you'll see an electronic strip in it. This is to keep large sums of money from leaving the country by tracking. You should know that large sums of cash taken out of the country is illegal because it frequently goes to foreign interests who don't always have the best interests of the US.

    Crooked cops? Absolutely. But I'm looking at the issue of crooked cops from the limited view of the three agencies I worked for where corruption did not exist. So it's harder for me to accept in other agencies, although I know it's sometimes sadly done. Questionable seizures? Yes, three examples were given in the article. But they got their money back, so it wasn't a forfeiture. Crooked lawyers? I've seen plenty of them.

    NPR reports the news, but I wouldn't put a lot of trust in them as they have a Liberal agenda of painting America as fundamentally racist. Your mileage may vary, but I have to suspect their motives when they only reported on seizures from minorities.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • MississippiBoyMississippiBoy Senior Member Posts: 819 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    NPR reports the news, but I wouldn't put a lot of trust in them as they have a Liberal agenda of painting America as fundamentally racist. Your mileage may vary, but I have to suspect their motives when they only reported on seizures from minorities.

    So, because NPR's motives for reporting them might not be on the up and up, did those seizures not happen?
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,071 Senior Member
    So, because NPR's motives for reporting them might not be on the up and up, did those seizures not happen?

    No, they happened. The fact is more than these happened, but NPR chose to write about those involving minorities only. This is called cherry picking and I think this is revealing of NPR's agenda. So they "MAY" have happened, but I don't rely on NPR to give me the whole story, just like MSNBC. I don't trust them for the whole truth. If you notice, NPR reported statements made by the suspects as if they were facts. A guy's weekend profits, the fact that a guy was going to buy his mother a tombstone...these were unproved, yet were reported as the truth.

    The seizures happened, but not the forfeitures. If I'd stopped a vehicle headed to Mexico with $40K, with the dog alerting on the car, I probably would have seized the money as well and let a court decide. To think forfeitures are illegal ignores this fact...court redressed the issues. They went through the legal process.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
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