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Articles Tagged with Wrongful Seizure

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person-holding-fountain-pen-753695-288x300The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution guards American citizens against illegal search and seizure of property. But when a law enforcement official does initially have reasonable cause, what happens to the property (including cash) after it is determined no crime was committed after all?

 

This is at the heart of the issue with civil asset forfeiture. And it is being addressed in many states, including New Jersey. As this blog recently covered, in January 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S1963) requiring disclosure and transparency requirements for civil asset forfeiture. New Jersey joins a number of states that have moved in this direction at the request of several citizens’ watchdog groups, including the ACLU-NJ and Americans for Prosperity and the AFP Foundation.

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photo-of-person-holding-black-pen-959816-300x200New Jersey has joined sixteen other states that are moving toward more transparency in the seizure of property in civil cases, especially if there is no conviction. Spearheaded by the Institute for Justice beginning in 2014, the End Forfeiture initiative was launched, which focuses on reforming or ending civil forfeiture laws nationwide.

 

Civil forfeiture allows cash, cars, homes, and other property suspected of involvement in criminal activity to be seized by the government. However, the property owner doesn’t have to be charged or convicted of a crime to lose that property permanently. Some say this gives law enforcement agencies an incentive to “police for profit,” seizing and keeping as much property as they can in order to fund these programs. This is where the Institute of Justice and the ACLU-NJ have stepped in. 

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person-taking-photo-of-grey-concrete-building-1000740-300x200Miladis Salgado of Miami, FL, had $15,000 seized from her home in 2015 after what turned out to be an erroneous drug tip. Salgado has worked to get her property back and recoup the costs of defending herself in court. While the government has given back her property, Salgado is still financially worse for wear, and some are calling for the US Supreme Court to examine her case. This is just the latest in a series of high-profile wrongful seizure cases that are causing scrutiny of the practice of civil asset forfeiture. 

 

Salgado was legally separated but still living with her ex-husband Wilson Colorado when the raid occurred. At the time, the Drug Enforcement Agency was tipped off to allegations of drug trafficking against her ex-husband.  

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