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Articles Tagged with arizona

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christoph-von-gellhorn-kjA82leKmJc-unsplash-300x200Eastern Arizona College recently hosted a training event on police standards for officers throughout the state. The source of funding for the event? Assets seized using civil asset forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture is supposed to hamstring large drug enterprises by targeting their profits. However, it is hard to compare the resident drug dealers of Graham County to big-time drug lords.

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pascal-meier-UYiesSO4FiM-unsplash-300x200A recent case of civil asset forfeiture at an airport in Phoenix, Arizona deprived a man of almost $40,000 in cash.

According to press sources, the man allegedly flew to Phoenix to buy a semi-truck for his business. He didn’t spend any of the money and was catching his flight home when he was relieved of his cash at the airport. Authorities accused him of illegally obtaining the money, but he was never charged for any wrongdoing.

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bill-oxford-OXGhu60NwxU-unsplash-300x166Arizona House Bill 2810 was recently passed by the state’s House of Representatives with a vote of 57-2. This is big news not only in Arizona but all over the country as the bill inches civil asset forfeiture away from its dark days and into fairer ground.

The state is finally seeing a ray of hope as property owners are given a chance to protect their assets from unlawful forfeitures.

In Arizona, like in most states, the statutes governing the seizure of property by law enforcement agencies were lax. Officials had carte blanche on taking property from individuals whom they believed were involved in criminal activity. The standard of proof for a forfeiture in most states is merely probable cause that the seized asset was connected to or utilized in a crime.

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pexels-alfonso-escalante-2832251-300x200Asset forfeiture laws can be a complicated maze for experienced attorneys on the best of days. When an average person is caught up in that maze, they can end up facing a system where every turn can lead to a dead end. That was the situation Terry and Ria Platt found themselves in 2016 when the Navajo County Drug Task Force used civil forfeiture to seize their 2012 Volkswagen Jetta on Interstate 40 near Holbrook.

Police reportedly found a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle, along with drug paraphernalia and cash, but they didn’t have anything to do with those items. They allegedly tried to explain that they had loaned the vehicle to their adult son, who acknowledged ownership of the items. But unfortunately for the couple, Arizona civil forfeiture laws allow local and state law enforcement agencies to confiscate property they believe was used for criminal activity without worrying about formalities like an arrest and conviction.

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neonbrand-yDekvyZ52dU-unsplash-300x181Kevin McBride of Tucson, AZ, wasn’t around when police seized his 2000 Jeep Wrangler in May 2020 after his girlfriend allegedly used the vehicle for a $25 marijuana sale. Even though the charges against her were dropped, the vehicle was still held as a party to that alleged offense, and McBride was required to pay to get his property back.

Until last month, the Pima County Attorney’s Office was demanding a $1,900 fee for the return of his vehicle, saying “an outright return of the vehicle is inappropriate in this case.” Fortunately, the vehicle owner received legal assistance from an attorney, who threatened to sue on his behalf, arguing the state’s civil forfeiture laws unconstitutionally require property owners to prove their innocence.

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