"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)
Here are a few links and references to more information of the subject:
"The Advantages of Civil Forfeiture"Although tracing is a complex process, prospects for successful forfeiture are eased considerably by the procedural benefits of civil process. The most obvious feature is the lower burden of proof confronting enforcement officials: proof by a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.(8) Furthermore, under federal law and some state legislation, the burden of proof is placed on the claimant rather than the government.(9) Thus, enforcement officials need not achieve certainty in their tracing efforts. They need only satisfy a relaxed standard of proof This is an advantage of enormous consequence, as many cases turn on the burden of proof. Moreover, even if criminal prosecution was precluded by operation of the exclusionary rule, civil forfeiture may still be possible. Although the exclusionary rule applies to forfeiture proceedings, tainted evidence may still be sufficient to meet the lower burden of proof.(10) Indeed, civil forfeiture may be a viable option despite an acquittal on criminal charges.(11)
The civil context provides other advantages as well. For example, prosecutors may resort to the discovery process to obtain information pertinent to tracing.(12) The claimant may be deposed and disclosure of his records compelled. Perjury and contempt sanctions are potentially available against untruthful or recalcitrant witnesses. And, while the Fifth Amendment may still be asserted, a civil claimant risks an adverse factual finding by doing so.(13) This possibility places the claimant in a particular bind if criminal charges against him are still pending. Asserting the Fifth Amendment may result in an adverse factual determination, while answering questions may have incriminating consequences in the criminal proceedings.(14) And, regardless of whether criminal charges are pending, discovery is likely to provide useful information for impeachment if the claimant testifies at the forfeiture proceeding. Such testimony will often be necessary because, once the government's evidentiary burden has been sustained, failure to provide responsive proof will result in an adverse judgment.(15) Often times, however, such testimony proves counterproductive because it is presented in an evasive or inconsistent manner.
A civil claimant is also required to establish his standing to contest the forfeiture. Frequently, legal title to property will be in someone's name other than the real party at interest. Most courts will not permit forfeitures to be contested by such so-called straw men. Thus, before the prosecution must present its proof, the claimant must establish his standing. Normally, this requires proof of dominion and control beyond mere legal title.(16) Federal law and some state statutes require that this be initially accomplished by filing a verified claim.(17) In addition, some United States Attorneys offices routinely make standing a central discovery issue.(18) Thus, civil claimants are by no means assured automatic access to the courtroom.
For these reasons, the civil claimant is in a very difficult position relative to his posture in a criminal trial. Indeed, notwithstanding tracing obstacles confronting the government, many cases are uncontested by potential claimants or otherwise lost on standing grounds.(19) This means that, even when tracing obstacles exist, forfeiture proceedings should be considered since the government may never be put to its proof."
"When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox must be stoned; the flesh may not be eaten. The owners of the ox, however, shall go unpunished." Exodus 21:28
"[T]o live outside the law, you must be honest," -- Bob DylanThe 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.
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.