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That's not true in all cases, which is one of the problems people have with civil asset forfeiture.

That is civil asset forfeiture.

Not all states guarantee a jury trial for civil asset forfeiture.

And federal civil asset forfeiture almost always starts out as administrative forfeiture which doesn't involve the judiciary at all.

When the feds seize an asset the owner has 60 days to file a claim. If no claim is filed the government keeps the asset.

If a claim is filed, the government can either pursue civil or criminal forfeiture. In the case of civil forfeiture there is a right to a trial by jury.

However, as I said previously this isn't automatic. The person has to either have the legal knowledge to know how to file a claim, or they need a lawyer. In the majority of cases no claim is filed in many cases because the legal fees necessary to recover the asset will be greater than the value of the asset.

Basically if the government sizes a few grand in cash, it will cost you too much to recover it to make it worth it.

In states like Tennessee, police can seize your cash and you have to sue to get it back. They automatically get to keep the assets unless you sue them. They don't need to convince a jury of anything unless you sue them.

This is not the same thing as a person suing you and then using a replevin action to force you to give up your property. This is like if a person broke into your house, took your TV, and then you were forced to initiate a lawsuit to get it back. Plus you couldn't recover legal fees, it was significantly more complicated and costly than small claims court, and the thief suffered no consequences beyond returning the TV even if they lost the case.

Even Clarence Thomas, the most conservative member of the the Supreme Court, indicated in recent statement that he believes the current way civil asset forfeiture is practiced is unconstitutional.

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