Thursday, February 16, 2017

Asset forfeiture trumping political opposition

Remarkably, President Trump's critical comments last week about Texas senators supporting asset-forfeiture reform legislation appear to have re-energized the push rather than harmed it. At a capitol press conference yesterday, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a poll showing that 88 percent of Texans favor requiring a criminal conviction before the government can forfeit personal property.

Several different approaches have been suggested and prospects for reform are brighter than at any time in recent memory. Cops are becoming defensive and a police chief interrupted the press conference to complain about the use of the phrase "policing for profit." Of course, they could prove they're not policing for profit by supporting Sen. Don Huffines' bill to divert all forfeiture proceeds to crime victims. Or, they could follow this suggestion to spend forfeiture money on public defenders instead of letting cops and prosecutors eat what they kill. Until then, "policing for profit" isn't an allegation about what's going on, it's simply a description.

See past Grits coverage here, here, here, and here.


Anonymous said...

Or better yet, turn it over to the feds because that's exactly what's about to happen.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The feds won't do all the low-end stuff they do under the state statute, 4:47. It'll stop folks from going after truly little fish, IMO, and I bet the average forfeiture amount goes up a lot if it's only the feds doing it.

That said, as I understand it, Burton's bill would also apply to seeking federal forfeitures. But I agree the other bills need to be tweaked to apply to federal forfeitures, too, where possible - e.g., Huffines' bill giving all the money to crime victims, and the reporting bills. Jennifer Laurin made the same point today in a comment to a different post.

Peter Marana said...

This has always been totally crazy. We live in a land where the rule of law, the federal and state constitutions, lay the foundation. Allowing the police to steal people's assets is so totally outside the rule of law I wonder where the courts put their spine. There NO LEGAL JUSTIFICATION for pre-conviction forfeiture. But we don't live in a police state, do we?

This is another example of the double standard of law enforcement and prosecutors. Please reflect on "pretext stops" where the police use probable cause of a misdemeanor for legal justification for a stop or search where there is no probable cause for the targeted felony.

Very proud of Scott. Please keep pushing you are making a real difference.

Mette said...

Asset forfeiture violates the united States of America constitution fifth Amendment of Due process of Law. It violates the Texas constitution Article 1, Sec. 19. It should be void on its face. It is also a Bill of Attainder in that it is a taking of your life. Yes it is your life if you can't pay bills, buy food, pay for rent or utilities or even unable to get to work because the cops stole your car at gun point. Or you can call it a bill of Pains & Penalties. Most of these thefts by cops are done without ever charging the victims. In north Texas I read a police chief statement he needed the asset forfeiture for his budget. He built his budget with the intention of "stealing" from victims in order to fulfill his budget wants. How can you know that people have drug money when you stop them other than you just steal their property under color of law.

The law is there for due process. Cops need to be criminally charged for stealing property with out charging the individual with any crime and without a court order after being found guilty in a trial.

Also, cops should get prison time if the only purpose was take the individuals property for their use and not because of a true criminal act. Remember the couple outside Houston that were threaten to have their children taken by CPS if they did not hand over their "savings" that they had to buy a car. They had broken no law that allowed the cops to rob them.

Then if you really under stand law, then you would know that Congress cannot legislate to the people it is not their jurisdiction. We don't live in a federal zone, but that gets into a whole another discussion. The cops have no authority to enforce a federal law.

Anonymous said...

Grits, do you remember the hearing last year that DPS wanted to forfeit cars, etc of those folks who owe Surcharges?????

I was so mad that they brought this up! I bet they still want to do this!!

Anonymous said...

Texas is still trying to collect about four billion dollars in overdue child support and confiscation seems to be a partial solution. Note that the folks in border town are getting smarter however----scofflaws are getting driver licenses and vehicle registrations, tags, from places like Juarez and many are putting their expensive pickups and cars in the name of dad, mom, uncle or brother so as to beat the name check a police computer might do on them one day.

Austin are you awake out there?