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Articles Tagged with Civil Asset Forfeiture

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Police officer In yet another case of police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws, the office of the Michigan State Attorney General announced last week the filing of seven felony charges against a former police officer for his alleged embezzlement of $68,000 in asset forfeiture funds. The case has renewed calls to reform the existing civil asset forfeiture laws and stop the current practice of seizing civil assets for profit in the guise of fighting crime.

Sean Boucher, 45, was a detective at the Hazel Park Police Department when he allegedly used profits from seized civil assets as a personal enterprise between 2013 to 2017. He resigned from service in September 2017. Before resigning, he was originally put under administrative leave and then suspended by the police department a day later.

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AirpoOn February 3rd, a woman in Detroit Metropolitan Airport outbound for Amsterdam was caught smuggling $60,000 worth of cash, news sources report. U.S Customs and Border Protection seized the money and held the woman under custody. According to a CBP spokesperson, the passenger is not facing any allegations. It is not known whether the woman has retained a civil asset forfeiture attorney.

The passenger was said to initially have declared $1,000 with the CBP officers. However, upon inspection of the woman’s luggage, envelopes of cash were hidden in a package of sanitary pads. Although reasons behind the woman’s choice to hide the cash are not known, suspected illicit behavior alone legally allows U.S Customs and Border Protection officers to seize large amounts of undeclared cash.

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annie-spratt-E9NE0qcq74k-unsplash-300x225The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) announced that they collected approximately $242,000,000 in criminal, civil, and assets forfeiture. In the figures provided by EDVA, 86% of the $242,000,000 are from civil forfeitures.

Virginia earned a D- for its civil forfeiture laws in a recent national review. Besides a low standard of proof, the burden of proving innocence heavily resides on the property owners in this state. The law enforcement agency is also allowed to retain 100% of the confiscated proceeds; 90% goes to the participating agency, and the remaining 10% is to the Department of Criminal Justice Service. Although the law intends to prevent possible crimes, this “policing for profit” aspect may distort the priorities of the police officers.

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pexels-annam-w-1047442-300x211Rapper NBA Youngboy was arrested on suspected drug charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last Monday during a raid by Baton Rouge Police and the FBI. The Baton Rouge Street Crimes Division claims they received an anonymous tip about individuals brandishing guns in an abandoned lot. During the raid, 16 people were arrested and $79,000 was seized through civil asset forfeiture.

While the anonymous tip concerned weapons, the accused rapper was ultimately arrested on drug possession charges. NBA’s lawyer claims that not only did his client not have any illegal substances on him during the raid, but he was also unarmed. While only one illegal weapon was found during the raid, police and FBI seized a total of 14 firearms and $79,000 in cash. 

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pexels-sora-shimazaki-5668473-300x200Civil asset forfeiture is a popular topic for lawmakers right now. In Minnesota, Shoreview’s Democratic Rep. Kelly Moller increased the minimum threshold of money seized to $1,500 unless the money is unquestionably connected with illegal drugs. The bill also puts aside storage charges for vehicles and other filing charges so that people can reclaim their assets without paying high fees.

The recommended modifications to Minnesota’s property forfeiture law obtained preliminary endorsement from the state House committee. Proponents of the law say it includes prudent guidelines that will benefit low-income citizens.

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