Asset Forfeiture

Reason Writers Around Town: Radley Balko on Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws for Slate

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Writing in Slate, Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko recaps and updates his feature from the February 2010 issue of Reason on state civil asset forfeiture laws, and the outrageous case of Anthony Smelley, who had $17,500 taken from him while driving through Putnam, County, Indiana.

Read all about it here.

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  1. Anthony Smelley, who had $17,500 taken from him while driving through Putnam, County, Indiana

    I sympathize with Mr Smelley, but you’d have to pay me a lot more than that to drive through Putnam County, Indiana.

    1. Seems like the guy never ever heard of money orders or cashier checks – those are easier to conceal.

  2. Civil asset forfeiture, an outgrowith of the drug war, rests on the legal theory that property can be guilty of a crime.

    The legal theory is wrong – only people commit crimes. Any asset forfeiture laws should not pass the muster of the 4th Amendment’s protection of property clause.

    1. Any asset forfeiture laws should not pass the muster of the 4th Amendment’s protection of property clause.

      It depends on the level of due process.

      1. One can perfectly contend that a pat down during a traffic stop is NOT “due process.”

        1. Despite being a wonderful thing, Roe v. Wade is a prime example of raw judicial power and activism

          This is true.

          States should be required to prove with a preponderance of evidence that the property in question was the proceeds of a criminal enterprise.

          1. First of all WTF is up with the cross thread quote?

            And secondly, because a criminal activity is being alleged we are talking about a criminal trial, so the standard should be “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

            I know lawyers sometimes struggle with simple things, but come on now.

            1. And secondly, because a criminal activity is being alleged we are talking about a criminal trial, so the standard should be “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

              Not necessarily.

              People charged with criminal fraud and sued for civil fraud will find out that the cases, even though they rely on the same facts, have two different burdens of proof.

              1. Sheesh, Mike!

                What tort do you allege may have been committed in these cases, who is the victim, and exactly how much restitution are they due?

                The point of these actions is, prima facia, not to make any “victim” whole, it is to punish the “perp”.

                But even if we were to take your nonsense as given, the present practice is contrary to the plain text of the constitution because the person being attacked is denied standing.

    2. The Supreme Court says differently, and they are the only ones who get to vote on these matters.

      (Of course, voters can vote out politicians who support these things. But good luck with that.)

  3. Stranger than fiction.

  4. Balko is going to owe me a free pass to a rageaholics anonymous meeting. Every story he posts (ok the Innocence Project thing lessened the anger a bit) just pisses me off more with all the BS that happens in the justice system.

  5. The underlying problem here is that asset forfeiture laws provide a corrupting influence on the authorities, all the way from the state-house to courts to the cops.

    They argue that “AF laws are a powerful tool against criminal activities.” This is an argument that resonates with the people. The way to fix this problem is to require that all forfeited assets be converted to money (i.e. sold) and the money be rebated to tax payers at the end of the year. This would preserve the “AF laws are powerful tools against criminal activities”, but it would eliminate profit motive from our betters. If such a law (maybe a constitutional amendment) were in place I would bet everything I hold dear that asset forfeitures would plummet.

  6. @bestpriceforsales equus 3100 Again for the fuel cap not being tightened properly. The dealership charges 125 dollars every time to reset the check engine light.

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