Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Every year, federal and state law enforcement agents seize millions of dollars from civilians during traffic stops, simply by asserting that they believe the money is connected to some illegal activity and without ever pursuing criminal charges. Under federal law and the laws of most states, they are entitled to keep most (and sometimes all) of the money and property they seize.

In many jurisdictions, the money can go to pay for salaries, advanced equipment and other perks. When salaries and perks are on the line, officers have a strong incentive to increase the seizures, as evidenced by an increase in the regularity and size of such seizures in recent years. Asset forfeiture practices often go hand-in-hand with racial profiling and disproportionately impact low-income African-American or Hispanic people who the police decide look suspicious and for whom the arcane process of trying to get one’s property back is an expensive challenge.  ACLU believes that such routine “civil asset forfeiture” puts our civil liberties and property rights under assault, and calls for reform of state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws.

Cases

Morrow v. Tenaha: Police in an East Texas city will no longer enrich their coffers by seizing assets from innocent Black and Latino drivers and threatening them with baseless criminal charges, under a settlement reached with the ACLU.

Resources

Letter to the House on "The Civil Asset Forfeiture Act of 1999"»

Blogs

Easy Money: Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse by Police»

End Policing for Profit»

Texas Statute Paves Way for Highway Robbery»

News

ACLU Announces Settlement in "Highway Robbery" Cases in Texas»

New Mexico Law Enforcement Agencies Racially Profiling for Profit»

ACLU Opposes Texas D.A.'s Attempt To Use Seized Assets To Pay For Her Own Legal Defense»

MO's Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Closes $32 Million Loophole That Let Police Divert Education Funds»

Latest ACLU Advertisement Targets Asset Forfeiture Laws»

Senate Panel Approves Asset Forfeiture Reform»

WA Bill Would Bar Police Seizure of Property Without a Conviction»

With ACLU Help, Local Man Gets Back $2,000 in Bail Money Seized Unfairly by Police»

ACLU Urges Sacramento Officials to Defeat Unconstitutional Vehicle Seizure Ordinance»

Facing ACLU Lawsuit, Rhode Island Agrees to Return $860 to Wrongfully Accused Woman»

ACLU Applauds Legislation to Limit Unfair Police Seizures»


 

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