Pubdate: Fri, 29 Mar 2002
Source: Springfield News-Leader (MO)
Copyright: 2002 The Springfield News-Leader
Author: James Trogolo
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


No One's Property Is Safe From Seizure

Property seizure (asset forfeiture) laws, which were originally intended as 
a tool to strip major drug traffickers of their ill-gotten gains, are today 
used against innocent and guilty alike. Government agencies have become so 
addicted to the booty (they get to keep all or part of what they seize) 
that guilt, innocence or magnitude of crime are often immaterial.

No one's property is safe from possible seizure since the government is not 
required to prove the owner guilty of any wrongdoing. In the vast majority 
of property seizure cases, no charges are ever officially filed. Guilt by 
association, guilt by innuendo and guilt by unsubstantiated accusation are 
all sufficient causes for seizure.

Civil forfeiture laws, unlike criminal laws, are heavily weighted in favor 
of government, with little in the way of constitutional protection for the 
property owner. The abuses of the seizure laws are so rampant that in April 
2000 the U.S. Congress amended the federal law to correct some (but not 
all) of the problems.

However, state and local laws remain as written. Now seizure laws are being 
expanded to cover other crimes. If the courts are going to continue to be 
unconcerned about the trampling of our constitutional rights to property 
and due process, then we must demand that our legislators repeal these laws 

If government today has the right to steal our property, what rights will 
it have tomorrow?

James Trogolo, Battlefield
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