Articles Tagged with law enforcement

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Last year, police in Utah seized over $2.5 million in cash and property using civil asset forfeiture. This is a sharp increase on the $1.4 million seized in 2016, fueling concerns that property may be taken from innocent people.

Civil asset forfeiture is a system which allows law enforcement to seize property suspected of being connected to a crime. Before the property can be seized permanently, law enforcement in Utah is required to show clear, convincing evidence that it was linked to a crime. However, this requirement falls below the standard followed in criminal cases: that it must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt.” No criminal charges are needed for police to take property.
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In September 2015, Jean Carlos Herrera was driving his 16-year-old SUV from New York to Los Angeles when law enforcement in Iowa pulled him over. The police did not charge Jean Carlos with any crime. Nonetheless, they seized both his car and the $45,000 in cash they found inside.

When he was pulled over in Pottawattamie County, Jean Carlos refused to allow the police officer to search his vehicle. Despite this, the officer nonetheless examined his car, claiming there were inconsistencies between the story Herrera and his passenger told about why there were traveling across the country. According to a court record, a police dog also examined the car and detected narcotics. No drugs were found in the car.
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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

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With all of the controversy revolving around civil asset forfeiture in recent years, support for such policies is hard to find. In fact, any story that mentions the policies is almost sure to talk about a grave injustice has been done to the victim of the forfeiture.

To be sure, the actual of examples of abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws are plentiful. However, that does not stop proponents of civil asset forfeiture from remaining adamant that the laws are an overall good for society. An Alabama District Attorney and an Alabama Sheriff are the latest to speak out in defense of civil asset forfeiture, which comes as the Alabama Legislature begins considering legislation that would drastically change the way civil asset forfeitures are handled in Alabama in favor of civilians. Continue reading

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A $2 million dollar per year business was cut down in one swift stroke from Alabama law enforcement earlier this year.

Alabama resident, entrepreneur, and Rotary Club ambassador Jamey Vibbert lost his business when he was branded a felon for selling two cars reportedly purchased with drug money. The heavy-handed Alabama police lieutenant and District Attorney’s office strung Vibbert’s case along until it had ruined his business, despite the fact that the case was thrown out by two separate judges. Continue reading