Civil Asset Forfeiture: Government’s Right to Steal

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Civil asset forfeiture is a policy update which gives the IRS and law enforcement agencies a personal slush fund. They can seize your accounts or possessions without criminal charges or any criminal connections. You then have to prove you are innocent to get your assets back.

It’s becoming a popular practice and it has affected farmers, veterans, and restaurant owners who have no connection to crime.

Law enforcement agencies can take property they say they suspect is tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.

The so-called update is actually performing as law and it is based on a false threat with nothing more than anecdotal evidence to back it up. It uses a supposed crisis or extreme threat – like the mob or cartels – to enforce what is nothing less than a tyrannical law. It makes law the IRS’ and law enforcement’s job easier but it violates American’s basic rights.

The loose guidelines are not based on any statistics that more organized crimes are stopped and criminals are being caught.

In Oklahoma, law enforcement agencies across 12 counties took $6 million in cash over a five-year span, less than half of it came from people charged with a crime.

Accusations of civil asset forfeiture are turning into “policing for profit”.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless, a Republican from Oklahoma City, introduced legislation that would prohibit law enforcement from seizing property and cash unless the property owner has been convicted of a crime. The bill also requires the money to go into a state fund. Law enforcement are fighting the bill. Like any government organization, it fights for its own benefit, not for the people. Agencies don’t care about the people.

Thanks to civil forfeiture laws, the ever-expanding IRS can seize the accounts of innocent people without their ever having committed a crime. The victims aren’t given notice and are subjected to expensive court proceedings to get the money or property back, if they get it back at all. Victims have to prove their innocence without ever having been found guilty.

Civil asset forfeiture is a proceeding by government that can find property guilty of a crime.

There are fewer procedural protections under this law. There is no right to notice, no right to a hearing until after the property has been held for a long time. The person who owns the property must prove their own innocence.

The law allows law enforcement agents to take property or money they suspect of being tied to crime without criminal charges ever being filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.

Critics say this incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize.

We are not talking KGB or Russia, we’re talking the United States of America.

Carol Hinders of Arnolds Park, Iowa, pictured below, has a cash-only business. Thousands of dollars were seized from her account by the IRS solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

She had no idea a report needed to be filed

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Jeff Hirsch who owned a cash business – a convenience store – had his entire bank account containing $447,000 seized and after more than two years and thousands of dollars in expenses, he can’t get his money back. His lawyer believes the government just wants to keep his money.

The Bank Secrecy Act requires banks to help U.S. government agencies detect money laundering. Under that act, if you deposit more than $10,000 cash in the bank, the money can be seized. If less than $10,000, it’s a crime and it can be seized.

Jeff-Hirsch

Mr. Hirsch (photo above) handled a lot of cash in his business and was forced to continually close his accounts and open new ones because the banks didn’t want to deal with him. His accountant told him to open accounts for under $10,000 so he wouldn’t be forced to constantly open new accounts. It was then that the government seized his money.

Army Sgt. Jeff Cortazzo of Arlington, VA, began saving for his daughters’ college costs during the financial crisis, when many banks were failing. He stored cash first in his basement and then in a safe-deposit box. All of the money came from paychecks, he said, but he worried that when he deposited it in a bank, he would be forced to pay taxes on the money again. So he asked the bank teller what to do.

“She said: ‘Oh, that’s easy. You just have to deposit less than $10,000.’”

The government seized $66,000; settling cost Sergeant Cortazzo $21,000. As a result, the eldest of his three daughters had to delay college by a year.

“Why didn’t the teller tell me that was illegal?” he said. “I would have just plopped the whole thing in the account and been done with it.”

Many people give up when they can’t get their money back.

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Chris and Mark Sourbouelis of Philadelphia (photo above) had their home seized by the government after their son sold $40 worth of drugs from their home. The Institute for Justice is representing the family.

The money from forfeitures goes into a special forfeiture fund to be used to seize more money and property. It’s a self-fulfilling fund. It seizes to replenish itself so it can seize some more.

In some cases federal funds are involved, creating a financially lucrative relationship between the feds and local governments.Motel-Caswell

Russ Caswell owned the Russ Caswell Motel, a family business and a perfectly fine motel. Some people who frequented the motel did things that weren’t legal. He did what he could to assist police. He even gave rooms to the police for free so they could investigate the criminals in ajoining rooms.

That wasn’t good enough for the police. The police took the entire motel because some guests were criminals. The police were assisted by the feds and they all shared in the loot.

It’s called equitable sharing. Forfeiture is initiated under federal law and the feds then share the proceeds with local authorities.

This isn’t supposed to happen in the United States.

 

Reference: Daily Signal

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