Civil Asset Forfeiture

Indiana Senate Passes Bill To Let Government Steal Stuff From People Suspected of 'Unlawful Assembly'

Vague laws are typically vague for a reason.


The Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 37-8 to pass a bill that would give the government broad powers to seize assets from people suspected of "unlawful assembly," which, under state law, is defined as "an assembly of five (5) or more persons whose common object is to commit an unlawful act, or a lawful act by unlawful means."

If that sounds hazy, that's because it is—perhaps intentionally so. "The one thing we know is that vague laws are often enforced as broadly as they possibly can be," says Sam Gedge, an attorney at the legal nonprofit Institute for Justice, "and civil forfeiture is often enforced as much as it can be because the government stands to profit."

That practice—civil forfeiture—is similarly foggy, a fitting accompaniment to unlawful assembly. The process allows the state to steal property and/or cash from people suspected of, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense, depending on where you live. In Indiana, prosecutors need only to furnish a preponderance of the evidence to initiate forfeiture proceedings. They don't need a criminal charge, much less a conviction.

The measure is part of a larger Senate package meant to bring the hammer down on violent riots, upping penalties for some of the inexcusable methods of protest employed over the summer in response to the police killing of George Floyd. It should go without saying that destroying or burning down businesses in your community should never be an appropriate response to racial injustice. Property rights are human rights, and many businesses that met their demise last summer were owned by the very people protesters claimed to stand for. 

But why civil forfeiture would be an appropriate response belies the imagination. Foremost: It is already illegal to riot, already illegal to obstruct traffic, already illegal to commit arson, already illegal to burglarize. Under the Indiana Senate bill, for instance, rioting transitions from a Class A misdemeanor to a level six felony, meaning perpetrators would spend up to 2.5 years in prison and pay up to a $50,000 fine. People who commit those crimes will be prosecuted and punished accordingly.

Unlawful assembly is also already a crime. As mentioned above, however, it's much more nebulous, as it gives police the power to arrest people should they be in a big enough group and look sketchy enough to state actors. According to the bill, law enforcement would have the latitude to initiate "civil forfeiture of property that is used by a person to finance a crime committed by a person who is a member of an unlawful assembly."

The practice is, in theory, leveraged by the state to put fissures in, and paralyze, criminal rackets. How that works here is unclear. 

"I don't know what adding the civil forfeiture element really does," says Gedge. Does it mean the government could take your car if you drive it to an "unlawful assembly"? Maybe, maybe not: "I think we can be confident at any time that when there is a lack of clarity in a civil forfeiture law," notes Gedge, "the government is going to exploit that lack of clarity to enforce that law against more people."

Indiana has already shown they are not above that approach. Consider the case of Tyson Timbs, who has been at the center of a yearslong legal saga over his $42,000 Land Rover, which the state says they have a right to possess simply because Timbs was caught selling drugs to an undercover cop. Timbs' car was seized in 2013 and his plea proceeded to ricochet across the U.S. legal system, including up to the Supreme Court and back down again when a judge finally ruled in April 2020 that the state's legalized robbery exceeded constitutional bounds. 

But the state has not stopped, declaring before Indiana's highest court earlier this month that there should be no proportionality in civil forfeiture cases: no crime too small, and no asset too big. It was the third time in four years that they appeared before the state's supreme court to argue they have the right to steal Timbs' vehicle.

Governments have taken more than $68 billion from people across the U.S. since 2000, even though the practice does not deter crime. Then again, that was never really the goal anyway, was it?

NEXT: Los Angeles Slashes Number of School Police Amid National Debate

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81 responses to “Indiana Senate Passes Bill To Let Government Steal Stuff From People Suspected of 'Unlawful Assembly'

  1. I once put together an Ikea table incorrectly. Could that be construed as unlawful assembly? And would the fuzz lawfully take that from me?

    1. They might take it just so they don’t have to do the assembly themselves, lawful or otherwise.

    2. Do you deliver?

      1. Have you downloaded my Über assembles app?

    3. If so, then in this rare instance, a civil asset forfeiture might actually be doing you a favor.

  2. “It is already illegal to riot, already illegal to obstruct traffic, already illegal to commit arson, already illegal to burglarize.”

    That’s the problem, there’s no point passing new laws to make it illegal-er, when you could try enforcing the laws you already have.

    1. The forfeiture angle now gives incentive to enforce those laws.

      1. Yeah, the wrong incentive.

        Why not think of the entirety of flyover country as one big Capitol building? Then nobody could get away with misbehaving there.

        1. Yeah, but then the Democrats would have to Build That Wall (except in The Peoples’ Republic of California, of course).

          And they only use barricades topped with razor wire to keep out American citizens.

  3. So Ted Cruz runs away to Cancun and AOC raises $1 million for Texas relief. Ouch.

    1. Good for her if true. It’s chump change for her supporters, but nevertheless.

      1. AOC might be an idiot but she has great political instincts.

        1. Tits. You misspelled tits.

          1. Million dollar tits?

            1. Nah. Quick Google search sez I’m not paying more than 300 an hour

              1. Elizabeth Nolan Brown strongly disapproves of this comment.

                But I think it’s pretty damn funny. Please carry on.

    2. Ching! That’s a $.50 comment if I ever read one. Good for you, Chipper!

      1. If he gets paid per reply, as opposed to per post, you troll feeders are the real assholes.

        I cant for the life of me figure out why a certain 3 or 4 leftist cocksockers get more engagements than anyone else.

        Dont feed the trolls!!!

  4. This will used against Covid violations. Birthday party at Jed’s grandma’s? Let’s take the fuckin’ house!

    1. Thats what this is really for the riots are just an excuse.

    2. And churches; stealing from the poor box.

    3. And there you have it!

  5. “the government is going to exploit that lack of clarity to enforce that law against more people.”

    As opposed to “the government is going to use that lack of clarity to nullify that law”?!

  6. The fact is, our laws as they stand are pretty close to perfect and we don’t need to tinker with them any more. We just need to abolish social security and medicare (and end the wars on drugs and guns) and then we’ll be free and won’t need big government.

    So why don’t people support that (and why do they despise libertarians)? Because they want endless strife because they think they can benefit with profit or power in one way or another. Capitalism doesn’t offer any lucrative opportunities any more (unless you already have a billion dollars and well connected friends) so this kind of scheme is the next best thing.

    1. Capitalism doesn’t offer any lucrative opportunities any more
      Said the unimaginative loser.

      1. You’re a coward to fight with your allies here in your safe space. Get out there and fight the socialists. Convince them all they need is to get a spot on Shark Tank to hawk their new dog food flavor.

  7. “an assembly of five (5) or more persons whose common object is to commit an unlawful act, or a lawful act by unlawful means.”

    So like churches and pubs or any other free association violating Covid guidelines?

    1. now that you mention it isn’t this an unconstitutional law. the right to assemble and associate or something on that old paper

      1. Written by rich, slave owning white men that never had to deal with a worldwide global pandemic like covid! Derp.

        1. Imagine if the moderns ever had to deal with polio, cholera, the Spanish flu or the bubonic plague, and no antibiotics.

        2. Joe Biden doesn’t own slaves, never did, but he is really sorry anyways.

    1. Best comment: The people who voted for Biden are spinning in their graves.

    2. Okay so I started to watch this video.
      And don’t you see what the author here is doing?
      Selective edits to make the target look bad.
      I am sure that makes for a good strategy for pumping up one’s Youtube channel following.
      But it is really bad in terms of being well informed.

      “What is Biden doing for my small business?”
      “Well, Biden nominated a woman as head of SBA” and cut!

      Well DUH if you only cut there it makes Biden look like an idiot. Which is the intended reaction by the author of this Youtube video. HAHAHA Biden is such an idiot he wants people to think that by playing gender politics he is making small business owners better off! What an idiot! What a terrible person! Let’s go burn an effigy of Biden!

      But of course the reason why the video was edited at that point, and not at some other point, is that the rest of Psaki’s answer didn’t comport to the “Biden’s an idiot” narrative that the author of this Youtube video wanted to convey. That if the video’s author hadn’t cut off the video at that point, that the rest of Psaki’s answer would have been semi-intelligent and might have made a point. I don’t know, because I didn’t get to hear it. But the author’s selective editing makes me suspicious.

      Now I’m totally willing to admit that maybe Biden really is an idiot when it comes to small business. After all he’s a semi-senile old codger whose closest experience with small businesses is where he buys his morning coffee or something. But this video doesn’t prove it. It lends support to the opposite actually, by its selective editing.

      And shouldn’t our opinions on these things be shaped by what the people involved actually believe on the subject, not based on what some Youtube guy thinks based on selectively edited soundbites?

      This video is part of the problem when it comes to media literacy broadly.

      1. Yeah, they had it EASY.

    3. Oh and I keep listening, and what a surprise, he’s a purveyor of the STOLEN ELECTION myth.

      What are you doing listening to this numbskull?

      1. You listened. Why can’t he?

        1. Sure but don’t promote him as some sort of reliable source. He’s just some random Youtube nutjob.

          1. And you’re a paid Media Matters shill, and I’m a furriner who likes Trumpism. Isn’t it nice that we all are still able to give our equally valid opinions?

            1. “equally valid”

              Man who knew that Trumpists could turn into moral relativists so easily. All it took was an Orange Cheeto who had no morals at all as their Dear Leader.

              1. You’re right. Your paid “opinion” isn’t actually an opinion at all but messaging on behalf of the oligarchs.

  8. The Indiana Senate on Tuesday voted 37-8 to pass a bill that would give the government broad powers

    As usual, Binion is close understanding something important, but gets distracted by the buzzwords. In this case civil forfeiture.

    The real story here is the bi-partisan decision to pass such a law. Is Indiana such a deeply Red state that it has 37 senators with an axe to grind with protestors and an R behind their name? Or is this really about the D senators who claimed such solidarity with protestors demonstrating their willingness to throw them to the lions the moment their election is secure?

    The Democrats lie and lie and lie and lie and continue to get a free pass from the media. In this case the lie will be that the law will be used against white supremacist terror cells that don’t actually exist.

    1. Actually, Indiana is such a deeply red state that not only was it only R’s voting for it, but two R’s did not vote for it (the Indiana Senate is 39 R 11 D)

      So no, passing this was not a bi-partisan decision by any means.

    2. The 2020–2021 Indiana Senate has a Republican super-majority, with Republicans holding 39 out of 50 seats.

      1. Until half of Chicago moves there. Then those displaced Chicagoans will make a new Chicago. See, “Californians”.

        1. They already have a new Chicago. It’s called Gary.

  9. Let’s hope the next state Senate election goes 8-37 against the incumbents.

    1. The other 8 should be voted out too, just for different reasons.

  10. OT – let me begin by saying this story isn’t at all funny.

    “[Seaford Head School] in East Sussex [England] is renaming two of its houses called after Winston Churchill and JK Rowling, following questions over whether these two figures “represent the school’s core values.”…

    “Students at the school wrote a letter of complaint, which they sent to parents, students and guardians, explaining how they felt about the names. The letter denounced the British wartime prime minister as “a figure who promoted racism and inequality, unfairly imprisoning and torturing many.”

    “The letter went on to say that students did not feel that the bestselling Harry Potter author was a suitable representative either. This is due to her words about the trans community, which have been widely condemned….

    “Possible new house names include…Cuckmere Haven House…”

    1. Oh, I dunno, I think it’s pretty hilarious.

    1. The responses are terrifying.
      Gird up your loins everybody. It looks like we’ll be fighting for our lives before the next 48 months are up.

    1. White Knight hardest hit.

      1. White Knight hardest hit. continues to ignore retraction.

  11. “Advocates fighting for Washington, DC, to become the 51st state are more hopeful than ever that they’ll achieve statehood with Joe Biden in the White House and Democrats now controlling both chambers of Congress, though the effort still faces an uphill battle to gain traction….

    “In a historic move last June, the US House passed a bill that would make DC a state with a vote of 232-180 — the first time a chamber of Congress had advanced a DC statehood measure. But the bill was dead on arrival in the then-GOP controlled Senate and President Donald Trump made clear he was opposed to DC statehood….

    “Senate Republicans opposed to DC statehood would likely deploy the filibuster to block the bill — which then would require 60 votes to end debate and move to a final vote. In that case, Democrats would need 10 Republicans to join with them in breaking a filibuster.

    “Norton predicted that if Democrats could retain control for the Senate for another term, they could be “on our way to getting rid of the filibuster and on our way to DC statehood.”

    “But Bowser and 51 for 51, an advocacy organization that calls for bypassing the Senate filibuster to pass DC statehood, want to see Biden pass DC statehood within his first 100 days.”

    1. I realize this is hopelessly naive, but do they really think they can get the constitutional amendment passed to allow it?

      1. They’ll just misinterpret the constitution, and Roberts will allow it because he’s afraid demanding the government follow the constitution is too “activist.”

  12. ” . . . or a lawful act by unlawful means.”


    That is not even in English. It makes less sense than saying men are women.

    1. I guess a lawful act would be getting to the corner store. Unlawful means would be walking over private property to get there, over the owner’s objection.

    2. Defending oneself with an unapproved gun? Selling candy that you stole? Selling lemonade without a license?

  13. “Liberals hope, and conservatives fear, that the Biden Administration will transform the nation’s values and public policies into those of “California.” As a recent story in the Los Angeles Times put it, “California is emerging as the de facto policy think tank of the Biden-Harris administration.” If that’s right, the next four years bode ill for the free exercise of religion….

    “…California is often a bellwether pointing other progressive states toward new policy directions in which to move the culture. Moreover, successful activism there often leads to similar actions being taken elsewhere. Indeed, the Dignity Health case may have been an inspiration for a federal case filed in Maryland against a Catholic hospital that refused to perform a transgender hysterectomy….

    “California politicians will also exert great influence at the federal level in the new administration. Vice President Kamala Harris was the state’s attorney general before becoming a United States senator. She has backed policies that impinged on religious liberty throughout her career. For example, she sponsored a bill that would have gutted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which, not coincidentally, was recently the basis for a North Dakota federal judge’s ruling that Catholic hospitals need not perform transgender surgeries).

    “Xavier Becerra, Harris’s replacement as California attorney general and now President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, may be even more antithetical to religious freedom in the social context. He sued to prevent the Trump administration from relieving the Little Sisters of the Poor from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. He also has opined that the religious rights of institutions are not as strong as those of individuals.

    “So the signs are vivid for those with eyes to see.”

  14. Are the “unlawful assemblers” Trump supporters upset about MASSIVE ELECTION FRAUD? Then the law is bullshit and should be repealed.

    Are the “unlawful assemblers” Antifa radicals upset about systemic racism? Then the law should be fully enforced to prevent them from the despicable acts that WE ALL KNOW they are going to commit.

    Did I do that right?

    1. As usual, no.

      1. Yeah you’re right. Needed more flag waving and more jingoism for the Trump supporters bit to be more believable.

        1. Look, we all agree that the hapless Van der Lubbes, if duly convicted, should be punished. Where some people draw the line is when it comes to using the actions of a few Van der Lubbes to justify state repression across the board.

        2. Jingoism is vastly preferable to the despotic shit your crew is up to.

      2. “As usual, no”

        He knows what he’s doing, he’s paid to do it.

        1. Any chance the much ballyhooed $15.00/hour minimum wage would price him out of employment, because the leftist entire troll operation would be forced to go with cut rate Chinese bots?

  15. OT – Five Lincoln statues in Chicago headed for auction block (or however they dispose of public property in Chicago).

    “The [hit] list also includes statues of Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and several monuments to Indigenous people.”

    1. Here are the monuments being potentially targeted:

      1. (It’s possible they’re laying the ground for a “compromise” where they graciously allow Lincoln and Grant and take down some explorers’ statues, etc.)

    2. 4000+ shootings, 800 homicides, 52 mass shootings (4 or more shot), carjackings up 200 to 300%.
      Yeah, the statues are the problem. That is why Obama, “the great community organizer”, skeedaddled to a place along the coast. Those dang scary statues.
      Every single position of leadership is held by a person of color, mostly female, and yet there is even worse claimed institutional and systemic racism.

  16. Notice the commies at unreason dont even cover all the unconstitutional theft and other government actions in blue states like Commifornia?

    Democrats are so horrible they are not even worth discussing anymore. Democrat party is the party of slavery, kkk, and japanese american internment.

    1. You’re out of your mind like probably need to take away your children and let your parent raise them crazy and it’s beyond obvious but what’s even crazier is your delusion is shared by millions of Republicans.

  17. Anyone else remember when those crazy gun nuts said the socialists would go after the first amendment after they went after the second?

  18. Why?
    Because the left wingers who have been rioting over the past year, as a group, don’t have much to forfeit.
    If you are already living in your parent basement……
    But now that my side is pissed enough to take to the streets for some civil disobedience, they see dollar signs

  19. inb4:”Indiana Cops Took This Man’s House For Hosting A Weekend Poker Game”

  20. As a corrupt empire disintegrates under the weight of its moral, and as a result fiscal, bankruptcy, it seeks out more “legal” avenues of theft to maintain rapidly dwindling coffers.

  21. “The police killing of George Floyd” will likely turn out to be a libel.

    You might want to edit that given there is a really good chance he overdosed. That is certainly what all of the symptoms he displayed point towards, what the toxicology report says, and what his lungs displayed in being several times the normal weight due to edema — which is common in overdoses and causes the aforementioned symptoms.

    As far as the violent riots go, it would help if they did not arrest people who try to defend themselves and their property, and instead arrested the rioters. But it was all a leftwing election operation, which they stage every election season, and they know where and when it is safe to operate, and whose livelihood it is OK to destroy.

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