Civil forfeiture is an underhanded way the government can take citizens’ money without even charging them with a crime. And it’s even worse than federal agencies seizing small business owners’ bank accounts… police officers can also take cash away from unlucky travelers under this allowance or evict the parents of a child involved in drugs.

Many of these cases are actually brought against the property seized, not the owner of the property – which have fewer protections under the law. “Under civil forfeiture laws, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.”

Most police departments get to keep a portion or all of the money they seize, and many can spend it however they like. In a public hearing, one officer called their forfeiture money “pennies from heaven” that their department uses to buy “toys.”

A recent article in the New York Timesdescribed how the city attorney of Las Cruces, New Mexico offered police officers a veritable “wish list” of items the city wanted:

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”

Ridiculous.

Anyone who is concerned about self-governance and government overreach, should hate dislike civil forfeiture laws.  The policehave the right to do this even if the owner is not charged with a crime.  These laws give police and cities, of course, a huge profit incentive since forfeiture revenue benefits their bottom lines.

This should stop, and fast.  It’s government theft, no more… no less.  The practice is not about public safety.  It’s about padding the city coffers.

Hat Tip: New York Times

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.