21 November 2015

Civil Forfeiture Becoming Much More Common

In 2014, U.S. attorneys seized more in civil forfeiture proceedings ($4.5 billion) than the value of all of the property stolen by burglaries ($3.9 billion) in that year.

As a lawyer who has represented clients in civil forfeiture proceedings, I can attest to how unfair that process is to legitimate property owners.  It also creates poisonous incentives for law enforcement which generally shares in the proceeds seized.  The U.S. Supreme Court has toyed with taking on cases analyzing civil forfeitures for cases like failing to declare cash on a customs form under the Excessive Fines clause of the United States Constitution. (Civil forfeiture of property that is by definition contraband, like illegal drugs, is far less controversial.)

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