Apr 17, 2017
Asset forfeiture has become a huge cash cow for law enforcement at both the state and federal levels. Originally designed to allow law enforcement to grab cars, planes and other assets of drug lords and to deter drug smuggling, it has morphed into an excuse to confiscate almost anything deemed suspicious by police without having to prove in court that the person owning such assets is guilty of a crime. The novel law involved claims that the property is facilitating a possible crime, and it’s up to the owner to prove otherwise, which turns “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.
Senator Rand Paul is doing something about it. He’s introduced the FAIR Act (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act), which restores “innocent until proven guilty” to include a person’s property. It raises the standard of evidence from “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e. more likely than not) to “clear and convincing”
It eliminates the forfeiture financial incentive altogether since federal agencies would no longer be able to seize their way to higher budgets, nor share the booty with state agencies in order to get them to participate. And it would allow individuals and small business owners to request a prompt hearing to contest the seizure of their funds for alleged violations of law.