Asset Forfeiture:
Unconstitutional Property Theft by our Governments

By Leon Felkins

Written 1/25/1996

Revised 1/9/10


"We believe the government’s conduct in forfeiture cases leaves much to be desired. We are certainly not the first to be ‘enormously troubled by the government’s increasing and virtually unchecked use of the civil forfeiture statutes and the disregard for due process that is buried in those statutes’" (Quoting Judge George Pratt in US v. All Assets of Statewide Auto Parts, Inc., 971 F.2d 896, 905 (2d Cir. 1992)). US v. $506,231 in U.S. Currency, 125 F.3d 442 (7th Cir. 1997)

The Forfeiture Business

Our once trusted government (maybe we were naive to do so) has now shown its true colors for all to see, apparently without the slightest shame. Some years ago, using the notorious Drug War as a pretext, the government started to quietly establish laws and procedures to allow them to seize the property of individuals without going through the legal processes that we thought were insured by our Constitution. They have since increased the severity of these laws with several legislative updates. You can read the details in the links to other sites I have provided below, but basically, what the government has decided that they can do is to prosecute your property rather than you. So, they say, you may be protected by the Constitution, but your property is not. The idea came for this from an ancient English Law that allowed the state to prosecute a bull and to dispose of the bull if it had harmed a person ("deodand"). From this simple beginning, our government has developed a multi-billion dollar operation of seizing the properties of private citizens.

Here are a few links and references to more information of the subject:

Why Should I care about government confiscations, I'm not a Criminal?

"[T]o live outside the law, you must be honest," -- Bob Dylan
The question posed in the heading is a very upsetting question but one that I have heard from several people. I once posted some information about government seizure of property to one of the newsgroups (alt.government.abuse). The first response was from one of our fine citizens who said something to the effect, "Hey, if you are not a criminal, then you don't have anything to worry about". Which, of course, is not true. Even if the original intent was justified -- which it was not -- government always expands the scope of any law far beyond the original intentions. Look at how they have managed to get involved in every aspect of our normal lives from a simple statement about interstate commerce in the Constitution! They have already expanded the scope of seizure from drug related crimes to essentially any crime. How would you like to have your new car seized because your license had expired? It could happen.

In fact this statement reminds me of what the good citizens in Germany said just before World War II when Jews were being harassed. "Hey, if you are not a Jew, you have nothing to worry about." Right.

Which Party will Protect our Constitutional Rights?

Neither (at least, neither of the two major parties)! There has been a string of private property seizure laws passed since 1970. Some of these forfeiture laws were passed when the Republicans were in the Presidency and the Democrats were in control of Congress. Some were passed when a Democrat was president and Republicans held the congress. The fact is, there is little interest by either party in restoring our rights or in complying with the Constitution.

And why is this so? For one reason, because they are fulfilling the desires of the citizens! That's right, apparently the citizens are quite willing to give up constitutional guarantees to fight the so-called Drug War. A poll taken in 1995 found that over half of the citizens were willing to go along with this stupid idea. Another reason, of course, is that forfeiture provides a very substantial source of income for police at both the federal and local level. And of course, there's the control thing. Politicians and police are control freaks of the first order. Even when it is not profitable, they are obsessed with control of the citizens.

Check the links I have provided above for the details of the looting and how the proceeds are consumed.


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