Police Seizing Cash And Property From Citizens Without Charges
by: Daniel Jennings
August 16, 2013
Police in many parts of the United States are routinely seizing cash and valuables from citizens without arrest or trial. Worst of all, police officers in Texas and Virginia have actually been stopping motorists and seizing their cash.
Having a large amount of cash on you or in your car is now apparently a crime in some parts of the United States. Worse, laws set up to seize cash from drug dealers are being used to seize money from people stopped for minor traffic violations.
A disturbing article in The New Yorker magazine mentions several instances of police seizing cash from citizens. The cops used a legal doctrine called forfeiture to seize the cash. The frightening thing is that the cash and valuables can be taken without an arrest or even criminal charges. They can simply seize it on probable cause and in many cases that have nothing to do with drugs.
State and federal laws now authorize forfeiture for a wide variety of crimes, many of them quite minor. You can have property or cash seized for such offenses as cockfighting, drag racing, gambling, illegal fishing, and more. The most bothersome detail is that many police departments consider forfeiture money part of their budgets.
The Monroe, North Carolina, police department wants to use $44,000 in drug money to buy a drone to spy on local residents, New Yorker reporter Sarah Stillman noted. Stillman thinks the drone would be used to patrol local roads looking for more vehicles to seize.