Asset Forfeiture

Alabama Police Ruined a Couple's Lives Over $50 of Weed. Now the Charges Against Them Have Been Dropped

Greg and Teresa Almond filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Randolph County Sheriff's Department after it raided their house and seized their savings for a misdemeanor pot offense.

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More than a year after police raided an Alabama couple's house, upturned their lives, and seized thousands of dollars from them over a small amount of marijuana, the criminal charges against them have been dropped.

On Monday, an Alabama state circuit judge dismissed the misdemeanor drug charges against Greg and Teresa Almond at the request of prosecutors and ordered that their property be returned to them.

As Reason reported last week, the Almonds filed a federal civil rights lawsuit earlier this year against the Randolph County Sheriff's Department, alleging that in January of 2018, the sheriff's narcotics unit busted down their door, threw a flashbang grenade at Greg Almond's feet, detained the couple at gunpoint, and ransacked their house.

The search only turned up $50 or less of marijuana, which the Almonds' adult son tried in vain to claim as his, and a single sleeping pill outside of a prescription bottle with Greg's name on it. The Almonds were arrested and charged with misdemeanor drug possession for personal use. However, deputies also seized roughly $8,000 in cash, along with dozens of firearms and other valuables, using civil asset forfeiture, a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity.

The arrest came at the same time that the Almonds were trying to refinance the loans they had taken out to start a chicken farm, and as a result, they say they missed a crucial bank deadline, resulting in their house being foreclosed upon. They now live in a utility shed.

The Almonds' suit claims the Randolph County Sheriff's Department used excessive force; stole, lost, or failed to inventory their missing property; and violated their constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as their right to due process.

The Alabama legislature is currently considering a bill that would essentially abolish civil asset forfeiture by requiring a criminal conviction before property could be forfeited by police. It would join four other states that have passed similar laws in response to bipartisan outrage over civil forfeiture abuses.

Leah Nelson, a researcher at Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice who first wrote about the Almonds' case, says that while it would be a good start, the root of the problem is Alabama's punitive marijuana enforcement.

"The judge did the right thing in dismissing the charges against the Almonds and ordering their property returned, but the reality is they can never be made whole again," Nelson says. "The decision to jail Greg and Teresa over $50 worth of marijuana and a Lunesta pill cost them their house. The raid and its consequences ruined their small business and Teresa's health. Ending civil asset forfeiture is a critical first step, but to really stop the kind of senseless damage the Almonds sustained, Alabama needs to rethink its War on Marijuana."

The Randolph County Sheriff's Department declined to comment on the dismissal of criminal charges against the Almonds. The Randolph County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case did not immediately return a request for comment.

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31 responses to “Alabama Police Ruined a Couple's Lives Over $50 of Weed. Now the Charges Against Them Have Been Dropped

  1. “…the root of the problem is Alabama’s punitive marijuana enforcement.

    In the land of Jeff Sessions? Say it ain’t so.

  2. Alabama needs more immigration.

    1. What about all those people in Huntsville?

      1. Wait, you’re a boring-ass parody account, never mind.

  3. The charges have been dropped. So we’re all good then?

  4. Good for the Almonds.
    I hope they take a huge chunk of money from these cops’ wallets.
    Maybe the cops will think twice about trashing peoples’ lives over a misdemeanor.

    1. They will take nothing from the cops’ wallets, they will, however, take something from the taxpayers.

  5. Mistakes were made…have a nice day.

    1. At this point, what difference does it make?

  6. The Alabama legislature is currently considering a bill that would essentially abolish civil asset forfeiture by requiring a criminal conviction before property could be forfeited by police.

    Police and prosecutors continue handing journalists and lawmakers sympathetic victims as examples of why this is needed.

  7. Are there so few real crimes that the police have to resort to this shit to seize peoples assets, and to justify their existence?

    1. I’m sure there are crimes the police could be dealing with, but that means dealing with criminals. Much easier to just take stuff from people unlikely to fight back.

    2. Well they exist to generate revenue so yeah.

    3. Oh, there’s lots of crime. But very little of it is profitable. Why investigate rape, robbery, etc, when you can roust a guy for $50 worth of marijuana and seize his cash, car, etc and keep it for yourself?

  8. The arrest came at the same time that the Almonds were trying to refinance the loans they had taken out to start a chicken farm, and as a result, they say they missed a crucial bank deadline, resulting in their house being foreclosed upon.

    I see you decided to blur the point this time around.

    1. I’m going through kind of an impressionist period, yes.

      1. Out of curiosity, do you just include to generate more sympathy?

        1. I try to show the collateral consequences of drug enforcement and forfeitures when I write about cases like these. I think it’s an important part of the story.

  9. I was looking for the initial coverage of this story – you know, at the time of the arrest – but I couldn’t find anything in the first few pages of Google News.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the media ignored this until the victims filed their federal lawsuit.

  10. I fail to see the difference between police and Paulie.

  11. How twisted in the head must those cops be to do something like that?

  12. I am blown away that a student able to earn $5519 in a few weeks on the internet…. So I started—>> http://www.Geosalary.com

  13. Or…two known drug dealers were lucky in that they only had a small amount of pot on hand when the police showed up. They had just sold a bunch, but were able to claim that the $8,000 in cash they had was to pay their mortgage. The two had claimed no more than $10,000 a year in annual income on their taxes for the past 10 years, however, they were able to acquire a house, cars, guns and a chicken farm. They did not provide any explanation as to where the cash had come from.”

    Are civil asset forfeiture laws in need of amendment, absolutely. Are we really supposed to pretend that these people are saints?

    1. Yeah, they aren’t saints. Doesn’t change the outlandish manner in which the 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendments were violated.

    2. Fuck off, slaver.

  14. i can’t believe this is still allowed, or ever was allowed in the first place. allowing this incentivizes police departments to arrest innocent people. Of course, the cops never face justice for what they did, it’s the taxpayers that foot the bill. If police unions are going to be such a big defender of law enforcement, no matter the situation, they need to be the one’s footing the bill when innocent people sue the department, not the taxpayers. let the payments come out of pension funds, and watch how careful cops will become

  15. […] says ‘jury is still out’ on enforcement around marijuana concentrates (Colorado Sun) // Alabama Police Ruined a Couple’s Lives Over $50 of Weed. Now the Charges Against Them Have Been Dr… (Reason) // Canopy Growth Acquires Spanish Cannabis Producer Cafina (New Cannabis Ventures) // […]

  16. […] Alabama Police Ruined a Couple’s Lives Over $50 of Weed. Now the Charges Against Them Have Been Dr… […]

  17. Hey! United States v. Balint, ergo Darryl Thomas Agnew et al, dude. God’s Own First Responders now have all power to kill everyone on the block for so much as loitering on the porch in defiance! That 1922 case and its 2018 spawn made it clear that where plant leaves involving Demonic Possession are involved, the Creation Science is settled. Mens rea or scienter issues are pettifoggery–if not conspiracy to obstruct justice. BTW, 1922 was when the Dyer anti-lynching bill was defeated, followed by The Klanbake at the 1924 Dem convention.

  18. […] Governments are reining in these depredations much too slowly: […]

  19. […] their work on nonviolent crimes, ugly thing happen. Alabama Police raided a couple’s house for $50 of marijuana, but also seized their life savings along with the few grams of pot. After countersuing, the police […]

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