The Criminality of Civil Asset Forfeiture

What is Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil Asset Forfeiture is a process in which police officers “seize” cash, vehicles, firearms, or real estate from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.  Similar to Jim Crow or fugitive slave laws, these “laws” are immoral on their face and make (unindicted) criminals of the Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Deputies and Officers that willingly participate in taking property from people that does not belong to them even though politicians wrote down on a fancy piece of paper that stealing is “legal” when the “government” does it.

Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy and lucrative for law enforcement to take and keep property—regardless of the owner’s guilt or innocence.

The Institute for Justice, a national law firm dedicated to legal issues, published an updated and expanded third edition of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture that makes the case for reform, grading the civil forfeiture laws of each state and the federal government, documenting remarkable growth in forfeiture activity across the country, and highlighting a worrisome lack of transparency surrounding forfeiture activity and expenditures from forfeiture funds

By Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D., Lisa Knepper, Angela C. Erickson and Jennifer McDonald, with contributions from Wesley Hottot and Keith Diggs