The state of Texas is abuzz with a new civil forfeiture bill introduced by both Democrat and Republican sponsors.
This fresh bill, HB 2315, is directed towards highway racers who allegedly disrupt the peace in neighborhoods all over the state. HB 2315 will criminalize stunt racing on highways and forfeit the vehicles used in such races to fund local authorities.
HB 2315 has garnered many supporters from its conception. At first glance, it can seem like a good thing. However, when closely examined and all parties are considered, it could condemn racers, critics say.
For example, an Instagram account run by a self-proclaimed stunt driver has reacted negatively to the bill. The account owner expressed the dangers and redundancies of the bill as well as how it could affect a lot of lives.
The stunt driver alleged that law enforcement agencies already have the privilege of taking people’s cars even without the bill. According to him, police tend to take advantage of civil forfeiture regardless of the law.
This seems to be true based on the Policing for Profit survey published by the non-profit group Institute for Justice. According to the survey, Texas is on the lower end of the spectrum of civil asset forfeiture laws in the country. Authorities don’t need to convict people of crimes to take their property; they only need to have a preponderance of evidence that the property was used for a crime. It is up to the property owner to prove that their property was not connected with a crime.
Considering the state of forfeiture laws in Texas, there seems to be a legitimate reason for drivers to fear the new house bill. It is easy to see how this new bill could be a gateway for forfeiture abuses to happen. HB 2315 would add legal consent for authorities to take people’s vehicles on what some may consider questionable grounds. It would also concretely legitimize a constitutionally questionable system of forfeiting property.
Furthermore, there is a provision in the proposed bill to not excuse vehicle owners who knowingly lend their cars to stunt racers. The crux of this matter is: how would anyone prove or contend innocence? This is the same burden of every property owner who has had their assets taken from them by the state.
Traditionally, civil asset forfeiture laws don’t provide defendants or owners with legal representation because of the civil nature of the cases. Unlike criminal cases, property owners have to attempt to reclaim their property on their own without any state guarantee to back them.
The strenuous burden of proving one’s innocence is a hefty one. Most property owners sue not only to get their money back but also to prove to the state that they are not bad people. Some property owners choose to hire a reliable and diligent lawyer, ideally one with civil asset forfeiture experience, to help them get their property back.
Nationwide Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Has law enforcement taken your property using civil forfeiture? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and get the assistance of a nationwide federal civil asset forfeiture attorney.