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The Rise in Civil Forfeitures: A Legal Government Taking


Posted on Jun 22, 2015

Civil forfeiture laws allow law enforcement officials to seize property the subjectively believe to be involved with criminal acitivty, however the threshold is so low the owner need not be charged with a crime...ever. 

Virginia is not immune to government takings of this kind.  The Heritage Foundation just published a study which explains the ways these laws have degraded the justice system and left many people without their property including vehicles and cash for long periods of time. (available to download here:http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/11/civil-asset-forfeiture-reform-goes-mainstream

The Institute of Justice published a study, rating different states on their civil forfeiture laws.  "Each state is graded on the extent to which its asset forfeiture law encourages policing for profit, as well as data indicating how law enforcement officers behave in response to the incentives in the law.  Final grades combine two separate grades, one for the incentives in the law and the other for behavior."  Virginia's Grade? D-. To view their assessment in its entirety, click here: https://www.ij.org/asset-forfeiture-report-virginia

Additionally, Virginia has hit the news in a number of different civil forfeiture stories showing the abuses of law emforcement.  Here, a slate article gives nine instances of abuse.  The last of which occurs in, you guessed it, Virginia.  (See link here: http://dailysignal.com/2015/06/16/9-times-the-government-stole-americans-cash-cars/?fb_action_ids=10153073309813860&fb_action_types=og.shares)

So what can you do?  If you have experienced an unlawful civil taking, call an attorney. There are procedures in place (albeit slow, and time consuming) to get your property back and have a hearing on the merits of the government's ability to take your property.  Until we stand up against the state's abuses, we cannot expect to be trated fairly.

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