Civil Asset Forfeiture was originally intended to punish drug dealers and criminals. It was first enacted decades ago in Pennsylvania and then across the country in different states and throughout the federal system. Today it is used by the government to fund police departments, prosecution of crime and sometimes government parties, vacations and last year one DA’s civil settlement in a car accident case.
What Does The Government Say Is The Purpose Of These Property Seizures?
Laws have been created and the government says they seize property that is related to crimes or drug dealing, whereas in practical effect, they actually take people’s property first and then make them go through the court system to try to get it back. They wear them down and take their property. To me this has started to become more like theft than something aimed at punishing drug dealers and criminals. Well this law firm fights back against civil asset seizures.
Are A Lot Of People Who Have Their Property and Cash Seized Innocent Members Of The Public?
Yes. I currently have three cases in my office where a huge amount of cash was seized and no drugs at all were found. The only thing they did wrong was driving as a minority with a large amount of cash. The government should be ashamed.
Who Can This Actually Happen To?
Everybody; especially when it involves large amounts of cash being carried around, because the police and the government love seizing cash.
The government would not just seize the person’s home for no reason, so there would generally have to be a criminal investigation involved and a lot of work. They would generally not come and try to seize the person’s house, although if the person was driving on the interstate or on a road with cash, especially here in Pennsylvania, and if the police found it, then it would be more than likely they would seize it and the person would then have to get it back through the court system.
Would They Need Any Suspicion To Take Cash From Someone Who Was Driving Around With A Lot Of Money?
They say they need suspicion but a large amount of cash means it will get seized. In court the government would have to state their suspicion but that means the court process already started to take your money. Police will generally call in a drug sniffing dog if they find cash. The dogs will generally bark at the money whether it was a legitimate bark or a dog handler initiated bark.
The government then takes the money the moment the dog barks. It is then supposedly logged into evidence. The seized money is then taken to a National Guard center here in Pennsylvania where they would put it under an ion scan. They government uses the ion scan to check and see if there was an unusual amount of drugs on the money. They government also sometimes seize the money the dogs barked at it even if the ion scan comes out negative. The science of drug dog sniffing and the science of ion scanning are very weak arguments for the government. We challenge these cases using science to expose the false science of ion scanning and dog sniffing.
Is It Wise To Carry Large Sums Of Cash In Vehicles Particularly On Interstate Highways?
No. It is legal in the United States to carry cash, but the government likes to seize cash. If the person has a larger amount of cash, then the odds of the government taking it and then having to fight the property and cash seizure in court to get it back are very high.
What Are Some Common Misconceptions Or Misunderstandings Regarding Civil Asset Forfeiture?
One misconception is that the person would have to be convicted of a crime to lose their property. That is far from the case. Unfortunately, seizures of cash and property along the interstates of Pennsylvania occurs daily across Pennsylvania. Property is seized along Interstate 80, Interstate 81, Interstate 215 and many other Interstates and roads in Pennsylvania weekly for no other reason other than a dog may have barked at the money.
For more information on Targets of Civil Asset Forfeiture, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling today.