I’m not all that crazy about California trends but this is one I support whole heartedly. The Constitution bars the seizure of property without due process.
If you believe in freedom and the Constitution you are compelled to oppose asset seizure prior to conviction for a crime and must mandate limitations on seizure to those assets obtained through criminal means or with assets obtained by those illegal acts.
It may come as a surprise, but throughout the country, police officers are legally allowed to take and keep your cash and property — even if you are never charged or arrested for a crime. All it takes is officers claiming they think your belongings were obtained through illegal means. How about your due process and personal property rights? They’re out the window under most state and federal civil asset forfeiture laws.
For example, in 2015, a woman from San Diego, California, was driving on the freeway when she was pulled over by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies. It was a routine traffic stop, but the officers took $18,000 in cash from her. She had done nothing wrong and even had the paperwork to show that she was going to use the $18,000 to pay her janitorial company employees. They still took her money.
Fortunately, California is close to reining in this abuse, commonly referred to as policing for profit, and establishing some of the strongest personal property protections in the country.
Dating back to British maritime law, civil asset forfeiture was revived during the peak of America’s war on drugs (a.k.a. America’s war on people of color). During that time, the federal government and states passed civil asset forfeiture laws, with plans of targeting drug kingpins.
We now know asset forfeiture laws have been perverted into an ongoing attack on low-income Americans and those who can’t afford to fight the federal government in court. This abuse has filled law enforcement coffers, all the while leaving countless innocent people without their hard-earned wages, savings, homes, cars, and other property.
Across the country, an extraordinarily diverse coalition of community members, grassroots organizations, political associations, religious leaders, civil libertarians, and racial and economic justice organizations — the ACLU included — are banding together to fight back. State and federal legislators have responded by introducing sweeping asset forfeiture reforms.