New Tools For Civil Asset Forfeiture

Last week I posted a very negative perspective on the state of our nation. In fact, I took the stance that our Republic has already fallen, we just haven’t realized it yet (link). Here is an example of the what leads me to this conclusion.

A local news story details how the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Uses New Device To Seize Money During Traffic Stops.  This new device and the service behind it allows the OHP to drain the money from prepaid cards instead of being limited to seizing cash or vehicles. The person does not even have to be charged with a crime. The officer only needs to suspect that the money on the card was related to a crime. The company behind the new device, the ERAD Group, sells the devices to police departments and gets 7.7% of all cash seized…

It is an escalation of a process called Civil Asset Forfeiture that allows police to seize a person’s assets without a trial and without proving them guilty of committing a crime. The person can, if they have the resources, go to court and try and prove their innocence and petition for the return of those assets but the bottom line is that citizens are being deprived of property without due process. Some jurisdictions do have some sort of due process around this practice. For example, one local county requires police to have a warrant and go through a civil proceeding before they seize a person’s property. But keep in mind that to lose a civil proceeding the prosecution does not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty. That’s why OJ Simpson was convicted in a civil trial of murdering his wife but not in the criminal trial.

In a recent Civil Asset Forfeiture incident a young man was stopped and gave consent to the officer to search his vehicle. He hadn’t done anything wrong, why shouldn’t he give consent. The officer found a large amount of cash which was then seized. A young man in possession of a large amount of cash obviously had to be involved in drug trafficking right? In fact, he was a deacon of his church and had been entrusted to deposit a cash offering that had been collected at the church. The young man did not have the means to fight the CAF in court but, fortunately, his church did and the money was returned and deposited, less the legal fees involved…

This is where we are as a nation. The rule of law is viewed, by those charged with keeping it, as an obstacle to be skirted all in the name of the greater good…

Please pray for our nation.

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