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Articles Tagged with Civil Asset Forfeiture

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squad-car-1209719_1920-300x162A report released yesterday questions the value of civil asset forfeiture as a means to reduce crime. While proponents of forfeiture tout its ability to target drug traffickers, the report argues that forfeiture as a practice has not led to reduced drug use. The report also argues that that revenue from forfeitures has only led to a “very small” increase in the number of crimes solved.

In its report, “Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue,” the Institute for Justice looked at ten years of data relating to the federal equitable sharing program. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure whereby law enforcement agencies may take possession of an individual’s property if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. Equitable sharing is a specific form of asset forfeiture where local or state law enforcement team up with the feds on a case.
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dollar-499481_1920-300x212On October 25, 2018, Andres Mauricio Escorica Martinez was driving a white 2018 Volvo in Coconut Creek in southern Florida. A police officer approached the vehicle when he saw the car was parked with its lights on.

Escorcia Martinez showed the officer his Colombian driver’s license and confirmed that he had nothing illegal in the car. The officer noticed a shopping back in the back of the car which appeared to contain money. Escorcia Martinez then consented to his vehicle being searched. The officer verified that the shopping bag contained several bundles of cash. He then found a backpack which also contained cash.
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alabama-1611179_1920-300x287The Alabama House last week passed SB 191, which is designed to improve transparency in civil asset forfeiture cases in the state. Having passed both houses of the legislature unanimously, the bill now moves to Governor Kay Ivey’s docket for her to approve.

Civil asset forfeiture is the legal process where police make take possession of an individual’s property—such as a car, home, or cash—if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges are not required for property to be taken, let alone a criminal conviction.
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technology-2500010_1920-300x200On the morning of January 22, 2018, Anthony Gambino was driving on I-95 just south of Dock Junction, Georgia heading towards Florida when he was pulled over for speeding. According to court documents, when Camden County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Kelly spoke to Gambino, Gambino “appeared nervous, fidgety, apologetic, and talkative.”

Gambino showed Deputy Kelly his New York drivers’ license, a license which Kelly verified had been suspended. Kelly let Gambino know that, since he was driving on a suspended license, he would be taken to county jail. Gambino let Deputy Kelly know he had a duffel back containing $55,000 with him in the car. Once Gambino was locked in the back of the police car, Deputy Kelly called for backup.
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courtroom-898931_1920-300x226A new law reforming civil asset forfeiture in Arkansas is set to come into effect in July, but critics argue there are so many loopholes that it will change little in the state.

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal procedure whereby police are able to take possession of an individual’s property if that property is suspect of being involved in a crime. In most states, no criminal conviction is required before property is seized. To seize assets in Arkansas, police only need to show that a “preponderance of the evidence” indicates the property was involved in a crime. This standard is far below the “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is required in criminal cases.
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