Author Topic: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture  (Read 489 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
« on: January 27, 2019, 10:35:12 PM »
The Heartland Institute January 24, 2019 By Matthew Glans

Research & Commentary: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture

In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines a proposal in Texas that would end civil asset forfeiture in the state.

In recent years, states have taken steps to limit civil asset forfeiture: the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize property from criminal suspects without a prosecution or conclusive evidence a crime was committed. Civil asset forfeiture has even been used with no criminal charges filed against those whose assets have been seized.

The standard of proof permitting seizure differs from state to state. Since 2014, 29 states have comprehensively reformed their forfeiture laws, and 15 states now require a criminal conviction before assets are seized.

Unfortunately, several states continue to pursue civil asset forfeiture in a draconian manner. However, as the issue gains more attention, more states are finally considering reforms to their civil asset forfeiture laws.

One of the more recent examples of this is taking place in Texas. Analysts at the nonpartisan Institute for Justice (IJ) have given the Lone Star State’s civil asset forfeiture laws a grade of D+, one of the lowest rankings in the nation. Under existing law, Texas law enforcement officials only have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that property is associated with criminal activity to seize it. Along with this low proof threshold for law enforcement, property owners must prove that they had no involvement with the criminal activity associated with their property when they seek to recover their property.

Another major flaw of the Lone Star State’s forfeiture laws is that they incentivize law enforcement agencies to gratuitously seize property. According to IJ, in cases where a default judgment is entered (which is common among forfeiture cases), law enforcement agencies retain up to 70 percent of forfeiture proceeds. In contested cases where property owners challenge the basis for the seizure, agencies retain up to 100 percent of proceeds. Unfortunately, this encourages Texas law enforcement agencies to seize as much property as possible—as much of the funds seized can be used to benefit their departments.

Texas law enforcement agencies have also been one of the most active participants in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) equitable sharing program, placing 47th in IJ’s national rankings. Under equitable sharing agreements, federal and local law enforcement agencies agree to classify the suspected criminal activity as a federal crime, allowing them to divide the seized assets among federal and local officials. The federal agencies often receive 10-20 percent of the value of the seized assets, and the local police keep the remainder.

Unfortunately, this disconcerting arrangement allows local law enforcement agencies to ignore state law and circumvent the will of state legislatures and the property rights of citizens. From 2000 to 2013, Texas law enforcement agencies received $349.7 million in DOJ equitable sharing proceeds, averaging $25 million per year.

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Offline bigheadfred

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Re: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2019, 10:55:47 PM »

Offline Sanguine

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Cui bono?

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Offline MajorClay

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Re: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2019, 12:44:15 AM »

Online Smokin Joe

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Re: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2019, 03:01:44 AM »
That would be a start!
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Offline DB

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Re: Texas Considers Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2019, 03:31:44 AM »
Apparently AZ is similar to TX regarding this issue. California of all places is considerably better which I find shocking.

This is so blatantly unconstitutional anti American I just can't wrap my mind around how people like Sessions and "conservative" state governments think this is remotely right.

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