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Articles Tagged with New Jersey

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auto-automobile-blur-532001-300x200In just five months in 2016, police in New Jersey seized over $5.5 million in cash and property from individuals using civil asset forfeiture. This is according to a report published by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. The report also found that there is almost no oversight on civil forfeiture in the state.

The seizures included houses, electronics, clothes, a massage table, and baseball cards, not to mention the hundreds of vehicles also taken. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process where law enforcement is allowed to take the property of citizens if that property is suspected of being involved in a crime, and in most states, a criminal conviction is not required for property to be taken.
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On June 9, Dimitrios Patlias was driving through West Virginia on his way to Jefferson County’s Hollywood Casino. Traveling with him was his wife, Tonya Smith, who at the time was eight months pregnant. They were pulled over by a highway patrol officer who said Dimitrios had failed to stay in his lane.

The officer accused them of smuggling cigarettes or even of having drugs in the car. When he found cash worth $10,478 in the vehicle together with 78 rewards and gift cards, the officer accused them of gift card fraud. However, the officer found no evidence of wrongdoing. He issued Dimitrios a warning and let them go. Despite this, the officer took their cash, gift cards, and Dimitrios’ phone. Dimitrios and Tonya returned home to Egg Harbor, New Jersey with only $2. They had not been charged with any crime.

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