Can you imagine someone taking your property without have to prove that you did anything wrong? Then imagine the frustration of having to prove your innocence in order to get your property back!
In 35 states, this policy, technically referred to as Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF), permits law enforcement to seize property and cash if those items have any connection to criminal activity. Prosecutors only have to rely on a standard of preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Initially sponsored to disrupt and bankrupt criminal enterprises like drug rings, CAF has turned into a lucrative end in itself for cash-strapped police departments and law enforcement agencies.
As of 2014, law enforcement, per federal statistics, took more from Americans ($ 5 billion) than burglars ($3.9 billion). Four states—New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota and Minnesota—have implemented comprehensive reforms to prevent this practice.
Even in more liberal states, this reform is slowly gaining support. California Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance) introduced a CAF reform bill which met with bipartisan support.
Now more than ever, legislatures need to restore and strengthen our 5th Amendment rights from unreasonable, unjust seizure.
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