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Articles Tagged with innocent

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flag-1544223_1920-300x219In 2017, law enforcement across Texas seized more than $50 million in property, cash, and other assets from private citizens. They were able to do so by claiming these assets were linked to crime. While some of these seizures were taken using criminal forfeiture—that is, as part of cases where an individual was found guilty of a crime—others were taken using civil forfeiture. No criminal charges are required for civil asset forfeiture.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office makes no distinction in its records between civil and criminal forfeiture, so it is unknown how much property was taken from individuals not charged with a crime. Attempts by state legislators to force law enforcement to improve their reporting have repeatedly failed.
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In August 2017, $13,740 was stolen from a man in a gas station in Ohio. Although the culprit was caught, the Portage County Drug Task Force held onto the victim’s money, arguing it was subject to civil asset forfeiture. Last Friday, Judge Becky Doherty ordered the money finally be returned to the victim.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize money or property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. In most states, law enforcement can seize property even if its owner has not been charged with a crime. Since proceeds from forfeiture are often used by law enforcement, this has led to accusations of “policing for profit” from groups such as the libertarian Institute for Justice. Continue reading