Between 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.”