South Carolina cops love the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the police to seize any property they believe represents the proceeds of a crime and keep it, unless the property’s former owner hires a lawyer to prove the innocence of their goods: more than $17m was seized last year, and in a fifth of these cases, no one was convicted of a crime (71% of the people whose stuff gets stolen by South Carolina cops are Black).
A Detroit woman is suing Wayne County, Michigan, after police seized her car for possession of $10 worth of marijuana under the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Crystal Sisson alleges in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday that she was pulled over by Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies this July after they surveilled her going into a Detroit medical marijuana dispensary, where she had bought a small amount of marijuana for $10.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer elicited a shocking response during Wednesday’s oral argument in a big civil asset forfeiture case.
— Read on reason.com/blog/2018/11/28/breyer-destroyed-civil-asset-forfeiture
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Timbs v. Indiana , an important property rights/asset forfeiture case. George Will recently published an excellent Washington Post column describing some of the issues at stake: Tyson Timbs made a mistake, but not one as important as Indiana’s Supreme Court made in allowing to stand the punishment the state inflicted on him.
The Justice Department Didn’t Charge Him With a Crime. It’s Going to Take $39,000 from Him Anyway.
In order to get back any of the money that the New Hampshire State Police took from him, Edward Phipps has agreed to let federal prosecutors keep most of it, even though he has not been charged with any crimes.
The cops took the cash during a traffic stop in 2016. Phipps wasn’t even in the car at the time.
The police pulled the driver over for tailgating and for going one whole mile per hour over the speed limit. A turned up a bag full of $46,000 cash in the trunk. Police then brought in a drug-sniffing dog, which came up empty.
Though they have presented no evidence of any criminal act, police took the money and federal prosecutors declared their intent to force the forfeiture of the funds, so they could keep it. Phipps came forward in July 2017 to indicate that the cash was his, and he said it was obtained legally.
Asset forfeiture laws don’t just allow the police to seize property they claim is connected to criminal activity; they often let the cops keep the proceeds from what they take. This profit incentive is one of the biggest problems with the practice, since it gives police an incentive to pursue petty and indefensible seizures to pad out their own budgets.
Gerardo Serrano was on his way to visit his cousin in Mexico when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the border station in Eagle Pass, Texas, found a magazine containing five .380-caliber rounds in the center console of his pickup truck.