Here's the real problem. Civil asset forfeiture is an extralegal action. It's outside the legal system, which is why it's nearly impossible to get your money back. It's why the legality of what Lyon was doing doesn't matter. It's not a system of law, but power. He who has the power makes the law on the spot.
That the US collectively has resigned itself to this level of clear overreach, utterly indefensible on any legal grounds, not to mention the bill of rights, says a lot about what 9/11 has done.
The terrorists won the battle the people of this country thought they were fighting.
This is categorically wrong. CAF is outside of the criminal legal system, but is very much part of the civil legal system, and the governments loses CAF cases more often than they win them in CAF cases preceding or not involving related criminal cases. (But conversely, the governments almost always win CAF cases that occur after succesful criminal cases involving drugs, racketeering, fraud, or financial crimes.)
CAF cases make the news when the victim doesn't get their money back in a timely fashion, for the same reason that fires and earthquakes do: because that's not the normal state of things.
CAF is problematic, especially the way it is run in the South and Midwest, but don't make it out to be something that it isn't.
The OP asserted that CAF was extralegal, and it absolutely is not. CAF is specifically authorized by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, a federal law.
The OP asserted that the "terrorists won" even though CAF predates 9/11 and was created to combat organize crime. (CAF laws in the U.S. date back to the 1700s, but were infrequently used until roughly 1920 when they were used to target organized crime during Prohibition. The modern federal CAF law was passed in the 1984, to fight the "war on drugs", specifically referring to the drug cartels, and were modeled on the Prohibition Era CAF laws.)
I think it's important to note that it began with an extra-legal demand, no matter the legal substance of the procedure that followed.
Civil asset forfeiture proceeds in the USA are already a larger amount than substantially all losses to property crimes combined, and we have no way of knowing how much more was lost to extra-legal demands that didn't pass through C.A.F. proceedings.
We've made law enforcement into a thousand squabbling gangs of thieves, and it's going to take a lot of time and effort to un-make that monster.
No, it doesn't say that.
It says that the funds were seized with the explicitly stated intent to pursue forfeiture, and also a drug and money laundering investigation was threatened, with surrendering the funds (presumably, meaning not fighting CAF) given as an alternative to the investigation being pursued.
This isn't “CAF is an extra-legal process” this is the very-legal criminal process being used as a stick to threaten with to undermine the integrity of the equally-legal civil asset forfeiture process, because federal rules allow local law enforcement agencies to keep a share of federal-law seizures the local agency participated in (while most state forfeiture laws dedicate funds to the State general fund and not to the seizing agency), exacerbated by the use of cross-sworn local officers in airports, the chokepoint nature of airports on travel, etc.
That's not what happened. The quote from FoxNews reporter was: "Then offers the man a way out: surrender his cash & no investigation"
This does not mean the officer was planning on pocketing the money personally. This likely still would have been considered a seizure under asset forfeiture.
I agree that it should be entirely legal to carry around hundreds of thousands in cash, but the reality is that it looks very suspicious for someone who's been previously convicted of a felony drug conviction carrying around hundreds of thousands in small bills.
Asset forfeiture is a mixed bag. You have to appear in court prove the money was not gained through illegal means. The fact that most asset forfeitures go uncontested is telling that a lot of them, IMO, are probably indeed drug money (this is obviously controversial).
It's important to remember that every state is different - as is the Fed gov't.
In any case, it is absolutely not "extra-legal". That's nonsense. Asset forfeiture is literally codified in almost every state.
I don't care who was planning to pocket the money, specifically. The end beneficiary is not the primary problem in this clusterfuck. The fact that officers and departments, generally, can benefit from arbitrary harassment of citizens is the main problem. The final disposition of the stolen money is secondary.
No. Your big assumption here is that that seize wouldn't have also been done under Asset Forfeiture rules. It was used as a threat to try to get a suspect to confess to a crime.
Remember that officers can lie during interrogations.
> I don't care who was planning to pocket the money, specifically.
Well that's what makes it legal or not. If the officer pocketed it, then it's illegal. If the gov't did it using the law of asset forfeiture, then it's literally LEGAL.
You are conflating "illegal" with "immoral".
The threatened "investigation" in was the civil asset forfeiture procedure. They were asking him to voluntarily surrender the money, or else they would initiate civil asset forfeiture. In other words, law enforcement officers offered the victim a choice between plans A and B.
Plan A was the extra-legal course: give us your money, and we'll forget we ever had this discussion. This was the officer's preferred outcome. Free money, minimum paperwork.
Plan B was what actually happened: the civil asset forfeiture process. The victim refused to sign the papers, so everything goes to court, and then the government has to come up with something, at least a notional reason, to take the money.
However you read the laws around civil asset forfeiture, I am pretty sure that "plan A" was not an intended part of the picture.
No, it was used as a form of intimidation. I.e. give me the money or else I'm going to use the power of the state to systematically go through your life and fuck with you and people you know via an investigation
>then it's literally LEGAL
Who cares if it's legal or not? it's an extremely immoral and unjust way to handle law enforcement. The fact that it's legal is a blemish on the legal system that undermines the respect people should have for it.
Correct - which is a common tactic in law enforcement. That is why people are advised to shut up until they speak to their lawyer.
> Who cares if it's legal or not?
The people above describing it incorrectly as illegal.
> a blemish on the legal system
No. It would be a blemish on the legislators who wrote the law, and those who voted for them. The legal system enforces laws - it is not meant to judge ethics.
There is no way this isn't a significant factor in how many people leave the seizure uncontested. I wouldn't be so quick to assume anything uncontested is drug money.
Also, you can't skip work to go contest it because you won't be able to pay your bills.
I'd guess that one covers most cases and that police target people who can't afford to take time off to go to court
And, actually, poor people frequently don't trust banks and will keep their life savings in cash. That can easily be tens of thousands of dollars, it only takes putting away $500 a year for 20 years. Do you think they're gonna have adequate records to prove that all of that was legal income?
You don't generally have to “prove your innocence”, the burden of proof in federal forfeiture is on the government to prove that the property is subject to forfeiture. 18 USC § 983(c)
The only case where you would have to prove your innocence is for the “innocent owner” affirmative defense that applies only after the government has met that burden; that is, where the government proves then seized property was, e.g., used in crime, but you assert that as the owner, you were either unaware of the use of the property in the crime or did everything reasonable to stop it being used in crime once you became aware. 18 USC § 983(d). It obviously isn’t an issue when the theory of forfeiture charged and proven by the government is your crime.
Is this just pure speculation? You seem to be making this claim with no evidence whatsoever. There are many reasons cases might go uncontested. For example, the individual might not have the means to pursue the case. There are innumerable other possibilities as well.
I think this should read:
> We've deputized thousands of squabbling gangs of thieves, and given them the "special powers" of law enforcement
This CAF stuff is an expected and reasonable byproduct of that starting condition.
"How do we fix law enforcement then?"
You don't. Disband it. It's a recent creation, obviously a "failed experiment" (from the perspective of 'does LE promote a fair and safe society').
LE _isn't_ a failed experiment from the perspective of rent-seeking LE, but, well, dictatorships work out great for the dictators.
Without authorization, the cop would have stolen the money anyway. The law just makes victims more resigned to it -- if the money goes regardless, the cop might just as well get it. Maybe they'll even take less, that way?
Yeah, and we have an awful lot of news like that.
>The OP asserted that CAF was extralegal, and it absolutely is not.
In practice, there have been enough cases to justify saying that.
We live in a country where the authorities can confiscate cash when they see it without reason and consequence.
That, to my eyes, is extralegal.
Whether the law gives them this de-facto power is beside the point; the justice system clearly does.
> We live in a country where the authorities can confiscate cash when they see it without reason and consequence. That, to my eyes, is extralegal.
No, it's not, because it is, unfortunately, legal. "Your eyes" aren't really relevant here; the law is what matters.
> Whether the law gives them this de-facto power is beside the point
No it's not; "legal" and "extralegal" mean specific things. You can't just redefine them to mean whatever you want.
Others are simply not savvy enough with the system to follow through with legal action. Or, they are too intimidated. I've heard stories of people being stopped while driving through a small town, having the car searched, and having $1000 confiscated for no good reason.
If it never becomes a case, the government can't exactly lose that case, can they?
The OP asserted that CAF was extralegal, and it absolutely is not.
The OP asserted that the "terrorists won" even though CAF predates 9/11 and was created to combat organize crime. (CAF laws in the U.S. date back to the 1700s, but were infrequently used until, roughly 1920 when they were used to target organized crime during Prohibition. The modern federal CAF law was passed in the 1984, to fight the "war on drugs", specifically referring to the drug cartels, and were modeled on the Prohibition Era CAF laws.)
Got a source for that?
No, because people showing the cops they have a legitimate reason to have the money and getting it back isn't news, it's just how the process normally works. (And note, this is my professional experience from when I was a public defender, which included helping clients recover assets seized pursuant to CAF claims.)
It's like how there aren't any news articles about how most Tesla owners don't have problems with their car driving into obstacles every day. Normal isn't news.
I agree that it sucks that someone has to prove they have a legitimate reason to have their own money (in cash), but that's the way the laws are currently written, and they were written that way because their intended use was against organized crime. Most of the abuse of CAF laws can be addressed by eliminating the incentives for LEAs to seize the money (namely, that it currently goes toward their budgets), since prior to that incentive CAF laws were rarely used except in organized crime cases.
How does it jive with the constitution? Particularly the 4th amendment, but others as well.
CAF cases make the news because the defendant actually gets their money back, and it didn't already get spent building a new hot tub for the police station lounge
Welfare office Argument being is that someone should pay for the kid.
“Some places”? Really, which exactly? The only case I am aware of in any US jurisdiction where child support is required even in the face of proof of biological non-paternity is for children born in wedlock (sometimes with other requirements, such as marital cohabitation) in states where the marital presumption of paternity is conclusive (or conclusive when other requirements are met) rather than merely presumptive. And in that case it is literally what you legally signed up for.
Let me see if I have this right. A man and woman marry. The woman cheats on the man and gets pregnant, but lies about it and passes the kid off as the husband's child. After the birth, husband is suspicious, gets a paternity test, finds out he's not the father, and divorces the mother. And yet the now-ex-husband is still required to pay for child support?
If that's a thing that happens, that's genuinely awful. That is not something I (or anyone?) would want to legally sign up for; presumably people in those jurisdictions get married without knowing about this.
Oversensitivity, low or no empathy, entitlement, control issues, holding grudges, passive-aggressive behavior, these are clear symptoms of mental illness, and unlike nearly all, of one that can be cured.
Here's some wisdom about marriage from Kahlil Gibran:
Give your hearts, but not into each
For only the hand of Life can contain
And stand together yet not too near
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow
not in each other’s shadow.