Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The United States Government seized more from private citizens than burglars in 2014. Current federal laws regarding civil asset forfeiture are overstepping private property rights under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. Under the Fifth Amendment it is the obligation of government to provide evidence against private individuals whereas current civil asset forfeiture laws require private citizens to prove innocence. Civil Asset Forfeiture, where government confiscation is acceptable if it’s in the name of protecting the United States against drug lords by taking away private property.

It is time for the federal Department of Justice to catch up with states like New Mexico where the burden of proof is on the state to provide the evidence that the seized property is associated with drug sales, rather than putting the burden on the citizen to provide evidence that their property is NOT associated with the purchase of drugs.

In the fight against justice reform Jeff Sessions, fortunately, appears to be a lone supporter of Civil Asset Forfeiture at the Dept of Justice. He recently announced directives to cut down on crime by seizing private citizens properties without due process.

The risk of seizing property not associated with illegal activity is a low priority when you MAY be hurting drug lords by taking their belongings, according to Sessions. The current laws find you guilty until proven innocent which is completely unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, police departments can be incentivized when they seize property from citizens by the federal government through a process called equitable sharing. With such incentives they typically find loopholes around laws. In order to bypass civil asset forfeiture laws in Missouri police officers call in federal officials to do their dirty work in exchange for receiving a percentage of the property they seize. It’s a win-win for police officers since their name is now out of the equation and they look great when it comes to raising revenue for their department.

In order to assure you’re not the next victim of civil asset forfeiture we must get behind legislation to stop the collusion of federal and local police forces. Senator Rand Paul and Representative Wahlberg have proposed the FAIR Act, which would do just that. FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon released a statement in support of the FAIR act in March. Please contact your representatives to support both S. 642 and H.R.1555.