29 Mar Can Police Seize Your Money & Property Even If You Didn’t Commit A Crime? YES!
American Policy Center Launches Effort
To Get “The Civil Asset Forfeiture
“The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
4TH Amendment, US Constitution
Herndon, VA – “Civil asset forfeiture laws empower the government to seize property if it is suspected it was involved in a crime, but the real crime,” says Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, “is the way these laws undermine one of the most fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.” The Center has launched a campaign to secure support for Rep. Henry Hyde’s bill, H.R. 1658, in order to protect citizens against law enforcement organizations that now routinely seize homes, cars, and bank accounts from Americans who have committed no crime. The bill will come to the floor of the House next week.
Drafted by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the bill, entitled “The Civil Asset Forfeiture Act”, is co-sponsored by twenty-five members of the House, ranging from conservatives like Rep. Bob Barr to liberals, Reps. John Conyers and Barney Frank.
The bill would require the federal government to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question is subject to forfeiture and allow judges to order property released if the seizure would cause property owners substantial hardship. It would provide indigents with counsel and eliminate the requirement that a property owner file a 10% cost bond to challenge the seizure. It would allow a property owner to sue the government for the destruction of seized property while in its possession.
The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from citizens who committed no crime, but whose property was seized. Dissenting from a ruling by the Supreme Court that permitted such seizures, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that “improperly used, forfeiture could become more like a roulette wheel employed to raise revenue from innocent but hapless owners whose property is unforeseeably misused, or a tool wielded to punish those who associate with criminals, than as a component of a system of justice.”