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Articles Tagged with Civil Asset Forfeiture

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rope-1149730_1920-300x200In January, Denis Palamarchuk, age 36, was driving a semitruck when he was pulled over by police. The truck contained nearly 7,000 pounds of hemp. Law enforcement arrested Palamarchuk on a drug trafficking charge and also seized both the hemp and the truck using civil asset forfeiture.

While law enforcement officers believed the material in the truck to be marijuana, Palamarchuk attempted to explain that it was, in fact, industrial hemp. Although cannabis and hemp are closely related plants, hemp contains only a small amount of the psychoactive agent which makes cannabis so potent. Industrial hemp is used in a wide variety of products, including foods, beauty products, and rope. In December 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill which made hemp legal federally.
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highway-828985_1920-300x200Between 2016 and 2017, police officers in Phelps County, Missouri seized over $2.5 million during traffic stops along a 20-mile stretch of I-44. Law enforcement did not file any criminal charges for those seizures.

The property was taken using a legal procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. This controversial procedure allows law enforcement to seize an individual’s property if said property is suspected of being involved in a crime.

In criminal procedures, proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is required to gain a conviction. As civil asset forfeiture is a civil and not a criminal process, the standard of proof required to permanently take property is usually lower. In Missouri, all that is required is “a preponderance of the evidence.”
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squad-car-1209719_1920-300x162In May 2016, Braden Carlisle was traveling with friends from Charlotte, South Carolina to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. Carlisle was pulled over by police, who arrested him and seized the $6,600 in cash that was in the car with them.

“It scared the heck out of me,” said Carlisle. “I was like, this is insane. This is insane. This is worse than the stuff you see on the movies.”
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philadelphia-1740685_1920-300x241On March 23, 2016, police arrested Christopher “Bmore” Hawkins, age 46, of Spring Garden Township, Pennsylvania on drug charges. Hawkins was caught attempting to sell heroin to two informants. As part of his plea bargain, Hawkins pleaded guilty to several charges, including “possession with intent to deliver heroin” in order to receive a prison sentence between four and eight years.

During a search of his house, law enforcement officials seized several items. These included televisions, a 1996 Dodge Neon, and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK. Police were able to take possession of Hawkins’ property using a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture, which gives police the power to seize a person’s property or assets if said property and assets are suspected of being involved in a crime.
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las-vegas-680953_1920-300x200At about 11:15 p.m. on July 27, 2018, Anthony Garcia, age 28, and his passenger, Karisma Avila, age 19, were killed in a rollover car crash near Primm, Nevada. Garcia had been driving recklessly, and neither he nor Avila was wearing seatbelts. They were both ejected from the car during the crash and died from blunt-force injuries.

At the scene, police found a duffel bag containing $26,000 in cash as well as two jars filled with 64 pounds of THC cannabinoid oil. Police seized the cash using a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to take possession of an individual’s assets—such as cash, a vehicle, or a house—if they are suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges do not have to be filed for property to be seized.
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