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Civil asset forfeiture: When is it wrongful?

When any of your property or assets are taken by authorities, it can feel like nothing short of an illegal act. You may feel as though the police or law enforcement officers have committed an illegal offense against you. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many people every month, and it is called civil asset forfeiture.

What is civil asset forfeiture?

Civil asset forfeiture is the practice of law enforcement officers taking personal property that is believed to be tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking. Therefore, if you are driving along the road with a large amount of cash in your possession, based on the circumstances, the law enforcement may officers suspect you to be partaking in a drug deal. If they suspect this, they have the right to confiscate the car and the cash from you so that it can be used as evidence and tried for illegal activity. What are the consequences if I'm innocent?

The fatal flaw in the rules of civil asset forfeiture is that people and possessions are treated as guilty until proven innocent. What's more is that it can be very difficult to retrieve the confiscated assets after civil asset forfeiture has been carried out, even if the case is dismissed. Law enforcement officers are incentivized to confiscate goods because the assets can help fund their work.

The laws surrounding civil asset forfeiture are unfair for many people, and can leave innocent people in economic jeopardy. There are protections in place for innocent people that have fallen victim to wrongful repossession, and if this is you, it's important that you stand up for your rights.

Source: Drug Policy, "Civil Asset Forfeiture: Guilty Until Proven Innocent," accessed Nov. 20, 2017

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