Civil Asset Forfeiture

Behold: The 'Simple' Rules for Fighting Federal Asset Forfeiture

Get out your magnifying glass for this flowchart.


"Dear Reason: I never thought this would ever happen to me …"
Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation, as part of a multipartisan effort to help educate Americans about our abuse-prone police civil asset forfeiture system, has produced a lovely pamphlet explaining how the whole racket works, complete with an illustrated story.

Reason, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Institute for Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others, have offered up some of the information used within the pamphlet to explain how civil asset forfeiture works and how police can seize your property without ever actually charging you with a crime.

Take a look at the pamphlet here. "Arresting Your Property" is designed to inform those who haven't been following asset forfeiture stories, which is a way of saying that regular Reason readers might not see much within the pamphlet about which they're not already familiar. The illustrated asset forfeiture story within is remarkably similar to the case Jacob Sullum just blogged about this morning.

Consider the pamphlet mostly as a resource to shove at friends and buddies who don't understand what this whole scandal is about. There is, however, one component worth highlighting to Reason readers. We have written frequently about how complicated it is to fight asset forfeiture. "Arresting Your Property" puts together a massive flowchart to show just how challenging it is. (Click for a larger image):

Worst board game ever.
Heritage Foundation (Click for larger image)

Keep in mind: This is just the federal asset forfeiture process. States have their own procedures (assuming they're not using the Department of Justice's program to federalize it) and their own complicated flow charts that can be just as bad, or even worse.

Reason has a massive archive of stories related to asset forfeiture here