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Civil Asset Forfeiture Presumes Guilt, Robs Citizens of Property, with Little Recourse

Civil Asset Forfeiture is a common practice across the United States. It is intended to hinder the activities of organized crime such as mafia and gangs, by seizing money or goods obtained through illegal activity. However, in practice, civil asset forfeiture often disrupts the lives of innocent citizens.

When one hears instances of Civil Asset forfeiture, it sounds like something that might happen in another country, or perhaps in a very corrupt town that would surely get turned around. A retired couples turned out of their home, a young man robbed of his life savings, a couple with young children stripped of the money they had pulled out to buy a used car.

But, not only is civil asset forfeiture real, it is a common, widespread practice among law enforcement at the local and national level. It is also a lucrative one. The assets seized by local police or federal agents they have seized, financial or property wise, can be used by the department that seized it. So money, cars, and even homes can be used or sold to the benefit of law enforcement's budgets.

Property seized through civil asset forfeiture is also exceptionally difficult to retrieve. Basically, the citizen who has lost their property has to prove their innocence, and even then they are not guaranteed its return. This can be a lengthy process requiring specialized legal representation that can be out of range financially for most.

For individuals and families living with limited means or challenging situations, the loss of a car or a chunk of savings can be devastating. Civil asset forfeiture was created to curb the spread of crime, but instead it often encroaches on the lives of average, law-abiding citizens.

If your rights have been violated and you are seeking fair representation in any case in which law enforcement may have overstepped their rights, obtaining representation from a reputable defense lawyer is the first step to regaining what you've lost.

Sources:

Civil Asset Forfeiture; Seizure of Personal Property Because You Look Guilty, www.innocenceproject.org, May 14 May 2015

Taken, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/ , Sarah Stillman 12 Aug 2013

How the DEA Harasses Amtrak Passengers, www.theatlantic.com, Conor Friedersdorf, 19 May 2015

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