A report published by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has revealed that law enforcement agencies in the state seized more than $3.35 million in property using civil asset forfeiture over a period of six months in 2019.
Civil asset forfeiture is a process that allows prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to seize vehicles, cash, and valuables they believe is tied to criminal activity without convicting or even charging the property owner with a crime. Getting back property seized with asset forfeiture usually involves expensive civil litigation.
According to the KBI’s report, the counties that reported significant seizures were located along Interstate 35 or Interstate 70, where officers were assigned to watch out for drugs. Police seized more than $2.7 million in currency and over $590,000 in property. The Kansas Highway Patrol, which is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state, seized by far the most assets, taking in $1.24 million alone between July 1 and December 31. A significant majority (up to 91 percent) of cash forfeitures were uncontested, the report states.
The report showed that blacks, who make up just 6 percent of the Kansan population, were involved in 20 percent of the reported seizures. Latinos, who make up 12 percent of the population, accounted for another 20 percent. Even though a majority (86 percent) of Kansans are white, they only accounted for 56 percent of the reported seizures.
“It’s beyond time for reform, and that is why we’ve supported legislative efforts to, at minimum, have non-contraband property returned upon acquittal or case dismissal, without the property owner having to engage in a burdensome and costly process to reclaim what is theirs,” said Nadine Johnson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
Law enforcement agencies argue that asset forfeiture is an important tool for stopping crime by taking the proceeds of drugs, guns, and other assets used for criminal activity off the streets. However, critics argue that asset forfeiture gives police an incentive for taking property because the agencies can keep the proceeds, which are used to fund training, operations, vehicles, and more.
While civil asset forfeiture is intended to give law enforcement a tool they can use to go after organized crime, it has become a way for police departments to generate revenue, and many of its targets are innocent. The costly and lengthy process of challenging a seizure amounts to a shakedown that violates the constitutional rights of innocent American citizens.
If your property has been seized by police using civil forfeiture, then you should immediately consult an experienced attorney who can review the evidence and assist you in having your property returned to you in the quickest way possible.
South Florida Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Has your property been seized using asset forfeiture in South Florida? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced civil asset forfeiture attorneys.